HC: Put troublemakers in jail till Jalandhar temple body polls
The Punjab and Haryana high court has ordered that any member who interferes with the election process of a prominent temple in Jalandhar, be taken into preventive custody and kept in jail until completion. The court has appointed three high court lawyers to conduct the election within two months, after no election was held since 2009 due to infighting in the committee. The court has also directed that no court or authority would entertain any suit, petition or representation regarding the issue.
Following politics over control of management of a prominent temple in Jalandhar, the Punjab and Haryana high court has ordered that if any member or office bearer of the managing committee interferes with the election process, he be taken into preventive custody and kept in Kapurthala jail till the completion.
The bench, presided over by justice Rajbir Sehrawat, has also directed that no court or any other authority would entertain any suit, petition or representation regarding the issue. Three lawyers from the high court have been tasked with the conduct of election within two months.
The controversy surrounds election to the managing committee, Shri Sanatan Dharam Sabha (regd), Geeta Mandir, Model Town, Jalandhar, one of the most popular temples in the town, where polls have not been held since 2009. Election to such societies is required to be conducted annually under the Societies Registration Act-1860.
The plea was from one Arun Walia, filed through advocate RS Bajaj, who had petitioned in February over the issue of voting rights to the members and it was during these proceedings that the court came to know that since 2009 no election has taken place.
The court observed that after 2009, the committee behaved as if management of the society was their “personal domain” and no election was held. In an earlier round of legal battle, a retired high court judge alongwith two others were tasked to conduct the election in 2017. However, due to infighting, election could not be held and the former judge eventually relinquished as chairman of the committee.
“While the election has not been held, the money of the society is being appropriated in not so appropriate manner as is permitted under law. In view of this it becomes of paramount importance that the election is held immediately,” the bench said, appointing three high court lawyers — Harsh Chopra, Jagdeep Virk, and Lovish Rattan — to conduct the election.
The court has made it clear that the committee would exercise the powers of the ad hoc managing committee of the society and would have powers to finalise and notify the voters’ list. If they need any assistance from the district administration or the police, then the officers/officials are mandated to extend the necessary assistance, the court said, further giving two-month time frame and asking the committee that if any person tries to interfere with the process, he be kept in jail during the process.