</td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2" valign="top"> Chandigarh: In a development regarding an issue on which the community has still to formulate its view and is most likely to find it a divisive one, the SGPC has been found wanting under the Right to Information Act and is now on the target of the information facilitating panel of India. After the SGPC’s inability, or unwillingness, to supply information sought by an applicant under the RTI Act on various issues the Sikh body was associated with, especially after 1984, the Chief Information Commissioner (Punjab) has stepped in to call for an explanation by the last week of July.
Sikh scholar and advocate Dr Malkiat Singh Rahi had on April 17 sent a communication to SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar and requested some information that was needed for a book he was writing on modern Sikh history. Since SGPC is a public authority as defined in the Act, it is required to provide the information, or reasons for not doing so, within 30 days of the receipt of an application.
It was after the Sikh body failed to provide within the stipulated period what Rahi wanted that the historian approached the CIC. He had, among other things, sought to know the amount SGPC spent on propagation of Sikhism in India and abroad since 1984 and also the amount spent on maintaining heritage connected with Sikhs like Bebe Nanki’s house in Sultanpur Lodhi, Kapurthala, and other historical places.
There were other questions that Rahi posed. He, for instance, inquired about the number of books SGPC published to make Sikhism known in other countries of the world and the money spent by it on legal cases concerning distortion of religion in school texts. What was also asked was the amount of money SGPC spent on beautifying and cleaning the Bein.
Other queries related to income being generated from properties under SGPC, donations and details of cases contested during the last decade plus fees dished out to lawyers representing it. Then, there was a question on how much was spent on celebrations marking the creation of Khalsa, 400 years of Sri Guru Granth Sahib and martyrdom of Sahibzadas at Fatehgarh Sahib.
Rahi said the information would help clarify the role of SGPC in advancing the cause of Sikhs and Sikhism during times of crises in the history of the religion and its adherents. But before Sikh intellectuals jump to conclude that the SGPC had no right to conceal this information, it will be desirable that the implications of the SGPC being fully covered under the RTI be understood, said some panthic affairs experts. </td></tr></tbody></table>