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WHAT IS THIS CASE ABOUT

Balwant Singh Khera had filed a complaint in 2009 before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate against Sukhbir Singh Badal, Parkash Singh Badal, and Daljit Singh Cheema. The criminal complaint alleged that Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) had two constitutions, one submitted to the Gurdwara Election Commission (GEC) and the other to the Election Commission of India (ECI). The party claimed to be secular in one of the constitutions and claimed to be a religious body in the second constitution. This was regarded as cheating, and the present case is a plea to the Supreme Court by the appellants concerning the complaint by Khera.

CONTENTIONS OF THE PARTIES 

The counsel on behalf of the appellants contended that Respondent No.1 had filed the complaint dated 20.02.2009 after a failed attempt to get the registration of the party canceled. The complaint was lodged after 20 years of the passing of registration and hence it amounts to abuse of process of law. It was also submitted before the court that, one can be religious as well as secular in their outlook. The counsel on behalf of the respondents contended that to gain registration of the party, the appellants have conducted serious offenses such as fraud, forgery, and cheating. It was also submitted that the eligibility criteria to contest the election of Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) were different in both constitutions.

OBSERVATIONS OF THE COURT 

The Supreme Court set aside the order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, and quashed the criminal complaint against the appellants. The court remarked that the proceedings were nothing but “an abuse of process of law and courts”. A bench consisting of Justices M R Shah and C T Ravikumar held that the case satisfies none of the ingredients necessary to constitute the offenses alleged and also stated that being religious isn’t contrary to being secular.

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