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Punjab Assembly passes bill to amend Sikh Gurudwaras Act for "free telecast" of Gurbani from Golden Temple

Chandigarh: Punjab Assembly on Tuesday passed the Sikh Gurudwaras (Amendment) Bill, 2023 that aims to make the broadcast and telecast of 'Gurbani' from Golden Temple free for all with no tender required.
The bill was presented in the assembly by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann. The bill has been opposed by SGPC chief Harjinder Singh Dhami and Shiromani Akali Dal leaders who said that the state government did not have the authority to bring such a bill.
Earlier Congress MLAs staged a walkout from the assembly over their demands. Party leaders have also said that the state government cannot bring a bill to amend the Sikh Gurudwaras Act.
The bill was approved by Punjab Cabinet on Monday.
Mann said after the meeting that Cabinet has approved the proposal to amend The Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925 and to insert Section 125 A in the Act thereby casting duty on the SGPC to ensure free-to-air live telecast of the Holy Gurbani from Sri Harmandir Sahib.
He said that the Sikh Gurdwaras (Amendment) Bill, 2023 will pave the way "for eliminating the undue control of 'Modern Day Masands' over the free-to-air telecast of the sacred Gurbani".
Mann said that this amendment has been made with the objective that the entire humanity is able to listen to and see the live telecast of Holy Gurbani free of cost.
According to a Punjab government release issued on Monday, Bhagwant Mann said that this move is aimed at ensuring that Holy Gurbani is not commercialized in any manner.
The Chief Minister said that this Act will be called the Sikh Gurdwaras (Amendment) Act, 2023 and will come into force on and with effect from the date of its publication in the Official Gazette.
He said that in the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925, after section 125, section 125-A will be inserted for the live telecast of Gurbani free of cost.
Bhagwant Mann said that the Act stipulates that it will be the duty of the Board 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 available free of cost to all media houses, outlets, platforms, channels, whoever wishes to broadcast it.
The Chief Minister further said that as a humble and devotee Sikh, he is a votary of free-to-air telecast of the Gurbani across the globe. Bhagwant Mann wondered how this was an attack on Panth "as he was just opposing the control of a particular channel over the telecast of Gurbani, which is totally unwarranted and unjustified".
He said that this move is not aimed at giving rights to any particular channel of government or of any single individual but it is aimed at spreading the message of Gurbani across the globe.
The Chief Minister asserted that the state government is fully competent to amend this act as the Apex court had already through a judgment ruled that this act is not an inter-state Act.
He said that "a single family had dominated the affairs of the SGPC since long due to which an irreparable damage had been made to the Sikh Panth".
The Chief Minister said that as people wish to listen to Gurbani from Sri Harmandir Sahib so they had to subscribe to this channel.
According to the release, Bhagwant Mann said that the Act "is not an attack on panth but it is just a humble effort to ensure free to air telecast of sacred Gurbani across the globe". (ANI)

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