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Calcutta HC sets aside the excommunication of a member of the Agrahari Sikh Community: says it violates Article 21 of the Indian Constitution

Last Updated on January 24, 2024 by News Desk

Recently, the Calcutta High Court set aside the order ‘Gurudwara Chhota Singh Sangat’ excommunicating a man from the Agrahari Sikh community due to an alleged dispute between his son and daughter-in-law.

A single bench of Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharya further directed three respondents to individually pay Rs 50,000 each to the petitioner, totalling Rs 1,50,000, for the “severe harassment and trauma” suffered by the petitioner.

“Excommunication from an entire community, not pertaining to religious persecution alone but also the social life and relations of the petitioner, is such a stringent action that touches the normal life of a person and the right to live with dignity. The decision to excommunicate the petitioner from all facets of social life amounts to ostracization and squarely violates the petitioner’s fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution,” the court observed.

The court was hearing the petition challenging the excommunication order against him. The petitioner alleged that he is a member of the Agrahari Sikh Community and Gurudwara Chhota Sikh Sangat. The petitioner argued that due to certain matrimonial disputes between his son and daughter-in-law, the Gurudwara had passed an order excommunicating him from the entire Agrahari Sikh community, which is a clear violation of his right to life and his right to live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Whereas the respondents argued that the decision was based on the grounds that the petitioner had not responded to their communications and had not tried to resolve the matter, they also submitted that the daughter-in-law of the petitioner is a “helpless lady with none but her brother to look after her.”

The court observed that the matrimonial dispute was under the domain of the civil court and could be brought before it.

The respondent nos. 8 and 10 would do well not to arrogate to themselves the control of the entire Agrahari Sikh Community upon themselves in every respect, thereby usurping the powers and authority of a competent civil court. Also, the Gurudwara may provide religious guidance and leadership to its members, but the reason cited for the excommunication has nothing to do with religion” the court said.

Thus, the plea was allowed, and the excommunication was set aside.

Case title: Sardar Lalu Singh v. The State of West Bengal and Others

Written by Shagun Behal

Written By

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