Sikh – Seperate Religion
The Constitution, Review Commission has correctly recommended the deletion of Explanation II to Article 25. It will certainly clarify to the world that Sikhism is an independent and separate religion and is no longer a branch or offshoot of Hinduism. The SGPC, the Punjab Government, the National Minorities Commission, Sikh scholars and others have uniformly asked for its deletion.
During his visit to Amritsar last year in connection with a seminar on review of the Constitution at Guru Nanak Dev University, the Sikhs convinced the Chairman of the Commission, Mr Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah, about the futility of the Explanation.
He promised that the commission would certainly recommend for its deletion. The recommendation shows that the promise has been well kept.
The commission has also recommended rewording of Article 25(2)(b) providing for state legislation, inter-alia, for throwing open of Hindu, Sikh, Jain or Buddhist religious institutions of public character to all classes and sections of these religions. It is submitted that the names of the specific religions need not be mentioned in the provision; it should simply provide for throwing open of religious institutions of public character to all classes and sections of the respective religion.
This way the clause will be uniformly applicable, wherever required, to all the public religious institutions belonging to all communities. Keeping in view the political realities at the moment, one cannot expect any quick action to amend the Constitution, but let us hope that it will be done sooner than later.
Only then the Sikh community will be successful in ensuring constitutional recognition about the distinct & independent identity of its religion.
Dr KASHMIR SINGH, Professor of Law, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar