Read Order:  HARBHAJAN SINGH v. STATE OF HARYANA & ORS 

LE Correspondent

New Delhi, April 6, 2022: The Supreme Court has upheld the maintainability of the Petition challenging the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara (Management) Act, 2014, on the ground that it is violative of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, State Reorganisation Act, 1956, Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966 as well as the Inter ­State Corporation Act, 1957.

The Division Bench comprising Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice V. Ramasubramanian declined the preliminary objections challenging the maintainability of the writ petitions and observed that the writ petitions invoked under Article 32 of the Constitution on account of alleged  infringement of the fundamental rights of the petitioners are to be considered on merits. 

The two  preliminary objections assailing the maintainability of the writ petitions were that the present writ petitions do not infringe the fundamental right of the petitioners and therefore  Article 32 cannot be invoked which in turn makes present writ petitions not maintainable before this Court. 

The second objection was raised on arraying the State of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh as parties, stating that the same is an invitation to the other States to present their remarks on the legislative compentency of the State of Haryana, which is sheer abuse of process of law. 

The counsel for the State of Haryana cited the judgment of the Top Court in Chiranjit Lat Chowdhari v. Union of India and Ors., wherein it was held that Article 32 does not possess the objective of assessing the constitutional validity of the legislative enactments, but is invoked to protect the encroachment of the fundamental rights of the citizens. 

Another important judgment of the Apex Court in D.A.V. College v. The State of Punjab and others was discussed wherein the constitutional validity of certain provisions of the Gurunanak University Act 1921 were challenged. The Court in this case decided the question of determination of minority based on religion and language and held that the  Hindus of the State of Punjab are minority, however the Act does not infringe any fundamental right of the petitioners and therefore the Court need not to assess the legislative competence of the impugned Act.  

The Apex Court analyzed the objections of the respondents in the light of the judgements cited above and was of the view that these judgements did not support the contentions of the respondent wholly. 

The Court observed that two prime interpretations that came to surface in D.A.V. Case (Supra). One of the observations was that if the Court is of the view that the petitioner’s fundamental right is infringed and a case is made out on its face value, then invocation of Article 32 can be made. The second interpretation was that even if the petition is entertained irrespective of the fact that there was no encroachment of the fundamental right, the same shall  not imply that the Court will have to still deal with the legislative competence of the Act. 

Referring to these interpretations, the Bench observed that while the first proposition is valid, the second is not. Thus, it said, “…the entertainment of the writ petition does not mean that this Court has to examine the impugned legislation or legislative competence if the same is not found to be infringing fundamental rights.”

Further on the issue of impleadment of the States of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh,the Court stated that since the other States have been given an opportunity to comment upon the legislative competence of the State of Haryana, the same shall become  an inter-state dispute which is dealt under Article 131 of the Indian Constitution. However, the Top Court remarked that at present there is no such scenario, therefore the maintainability objections stood declined.

The Bench concluded the matter by saying, “ Hence, both the writ petitions under Article 32 for the alleged violation of their fundamental rights are required to be considered on merits.”

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