Bill To Telecast Gurbani Free Passed Amid Protests

Chandigarh: The Punjab assembly passed the Sikh Gurdwaras (Amendment) Bill, 2023, aiming to make the telecast of Gurbani from Golden Temple free for all, amid opposition from Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and its ally BSP legislators here on Tuesday.

The rights for the same have so far been with PTC channel, a private channel which is often linked to the SAD’s Badal family.

Wrapping up discussion on the Bill, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said that the Bill aimed at freeing the undue control of a particular family over the rights to telecast sacred Gurbani. He said that it was a paradoxical situation that the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) under the influence of a family that controlled its affairs, had given intellectual property rights of telecasting the sacred Gurbani to a channel owned by them.

For live uninterrupted telecast

He said that in the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925, after section 125, section 125-A would be inserted for live telecast of Gurbani free of cost. Bhagwant Mann said that the Act stipulated that it would be the duty of the Board (SGPC) to propagate the teachings of the Gurus by making uninterrupted (without any on screen running advertisements/ commercials/ distortion) live feed (Audio or Audio as well as Video) of Holy Gurbani from Sri Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) available free of cost to all media houses, outlets, platforms, channels etc whoever wished to broadcast it across the globe.

Meanwhile, the SAD member Manpreet Singh Ayali opposed the Bill saying that the government should not interfere in the SGPC affairs, an elected body. Nachhatar Singh, an MLA of BSP, which is an ally of SAD, also opposed the Bill saying before taking such decisions, religious bodies and others concerned should be consulted. It may be recalled that aside from SAD, SGPC, the AAP government’s move has also been sharply flayed by almost all the top Congress leaders and BJP.

Varsity Bills also passed

The state assembly also unanimously passed Punjab University Laws (Amendment) Bill 2023 thereby removing the governor from the post of chancellor of all the 11 state varsities and vesting the powers of chancellors with the CM.

Summarising the debate on the issue, Mann bemoaned that the Governor, who was not from the state and was not aware of its history and culture, created unnecessary hurdles in it.

Mann held that contrary to securing the interests of the state, the Punjab Governor was often seen on the other side. Citing the issue of Panjab University, he said that instead of safeguarding the interests of Punjab and Punjabis, the Governor had been taking the stance in favour of Haryana to allow its entry in the senate of university.

Bhagwant Mann said that this was a very strange situation as the Governor just to appease his political masters sitting in Delhi, was doing all these gimmicks. The chief minister said that it was brazen disrespect of the verdict of people that has elected the state government to work for their well-being. He said that on lines of the Bill already passed by West Bengal, the Punjab government had formulated this bill which would entrust the powers of chancellor of the Universities with the chief minister.

Congress stages walkout

Meanwhile, even as the members of the Congress, the main opposition party, staged a walkout protesting that there was no provision for a question hour or zero hour and that the session was intentionally called so as to deprive the opposition of time to ask questions and thus put it in poor light.

The BJP stayed away from the session as it held, the AAP called the session to further its agenda at the cost of taxpayers’ money.

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