TARA SINGH, SARDAR
TARA SINGH, SARDAR (1888-1956), lawyer, legislator and judge, was born in 1888, the son of Pratap Singh Gill of Moga, a district town of the Punjab. Having matriculated from a local high school in 1903, he graduated from Khalsa College, Amritsar, in 1907 and obtained his law degree from the Panjab University, Lahore, in 1910. He started legal practice at Firozpur but soon shifted to his native Moga. His interest in local civic affairs, besides his professional work, soon made him popular. He also took active interest in the Gurdwara Reform movement launched in 1920 and participated in the Jaito morcha which commenced in August 1923.
Although the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee was declared an unlawful organization in October 1923, it decided to sponsor its own candidates in the elections to the Punjab Legislative Council held in December 1923. Tara Singh, one of its candidates, won by an overwhelming majority from the Firozpur (Sikh) Rural Constituency. In the Council he fought for progressive measures such as prohibition, reduction of tax burden and increase in irrigation facilities in the rural sector, separation of executive and judiciary, and protection of peasants against urban moneylenders. A measure for which Tara Singh will be particularly remembered was the Sikh Gurdwaras and Shrines Bill 1925 which he introduced as a private member`s bill.
It was ultimately passed on 9 July 1925 as the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, as put forth through the Council by Bhai Jodh Singh. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee now regulated the administration of historical and other Sikh gurdwaras. In the first elections held under the Act in 1926, Tara Singh was elected a member of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. He was reelected for a second term in 1929. Tara Singh was ajudge of the Patiala High Court from 1930 to 1940. He represented the Sikhs at the Third Round Table Conference held at London in November December 1932, where he vehemently opposed the communal representation as a basis for the new constitution.
In a speech made on 23 December 1932, he said, “… the foundation upon which we are building our Constitution is unsound… It is being forced on us and that is why at various stages attempts have been made from different sides of the Conference to ask for safeguards.” The safeguards he demanded for the Sikhs in the Punjab ran broadly on the same lines as those demanded by Ujjal Singh and Sampuran Singh, Sikh representatives at the Second Conference (September December 1930), viz. special provisions for the protection of the Sikh interests in the legislature and in administration in the Punjab as well as at the Centre, and no statutory majority for the majority community ( Muslims) in the Punjab. Tara Singh resigned from the bench of the Patiala High Court in 1940 for reasons of health. He died at Moga on 12 August 1956.
1. Visakha Singh, Sant, Malva Itihas. Kishanpura, 1954