In 1920, the emerging Akali leadership summoned a general assembly of the Sikhs holding all shades of opinion on 15 November 1920 in vicinity of the Akal Takht in Amritsar. The purpose of this assembly was to elect a representative committee of the Sikhs to administer the Harimandir Sahib Complex and other important historical Gurdwaras. Two days before the proposed conference the British government set up its own committee consisting of 36 Sikhs to manage the Harimandir Sahib. Sikhs held their scheduled meeting and elected a bigger committee consisting of 175 members and named it Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. The members of the government appointed committee were also included in it. Harbans Singh Attari became vice president and Sunder Singh Ramgarhia became secretary of the committee. The formation of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee provided a focal point for the movement for the reformation of Sikh religious places. On 12 October 1920, the Khalsa Baradari, an organization of Sikhs from backward classes, held a divan (religious assembly) in Jallianwala Bagh at which some teachers and students of the Khalsa College were also present. A large number of new entrants were initiated into the Khalsa Brotherhood by administering to them the rites of the Khalsa.
The local committees with paid secretaries were to be formed for the management of important shrines or groups of shrines. Conditions of membership of the SGPC included conformity to the teachings of the Gurus, adherence to the injunction regarding five Ks, and a subscription of Rs. 1.25 per month. The Prime functions of the Committee were to manage all Gurdwaras under its control, cleanse them of unsikh and undesirable practices, to regularize expenditure and to utilize all income appropriately for purposes such as propagation of religion and education, upkeep and improvement of buildings and the running of Guru Ka Langar (free community kitchens).
Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, passed by the provincial legislative assembly on 9 July 1925 and implemented with effect from 1 November 1925 created a “Board”, renamed Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee soon after (although the word Board still exists in the statute book) to provide for the better administration of certain Sikh Gurdwaras and for inquiries into matters and settlement of disputes connected therewith. The “Board”, i.e. the SGPC, originally comprised 132 elected members from the Punjab besides head ministers of Sri Darbar Sahib and of the Takhts, at Amritsar, Patna, Anandpur Sahib and Nanded, and 25 co-opted members from Sikh residents in the rest of India. The first meeting of a newly elected committee must be held not later than one month after the government notification regarding its constitution, and thereafter a general meeting must be held at least once in a year. The quorum will consist of 31 members. The executive to be elected in general meeting every year consists of the president, two vice presidents (one senior and one junior) and a general secretary (all these to be known as office bearers), and between 5 and 11 members. The executive exercises, on behalf of the committee, all powers conferred on the latter which are not expressly reserved in the Act for the general meeting. All decisions in the executive as well as in the general meeting will be decided by majority vote. In the year 1996, the SGPC election was held in the state of Himachal Pradesh for the first time and the person who won from that seat was the candidate of Panthak Akali Dal named Satnam Singh Gill.
1953 Amendment to Gurdwaras Act of 1925
In 1953, an amendment to the 1925 act allowed the reservation of 20 out 140 seats in the SGPC for the members of the Sikh scheduled castes.
2016 Amendment to Gurdwaras Act of 1925
The 2016 amendment to the act by the Indian parliament stripped around 7 million ‘Sehajdhari’ Sikhs of voting in the SGPC elections.
The President of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) is elected by the Members of SGPC. The president holds powers to organize the meetings of SGPC and deal with matters related with issues of Sikh religion and oversees the managements of the Gurdwaras. Since 2008, the president also serves as Chancellor of Sri Guru Granth Sahib World University.
- Sundar Singh Majithia was appointed first President of the committee. This post got legal status after the passing of Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925 by legislation in British India.
After passing of this act Baba Kharak Singh became the President. The longest served President of SGPC till now is Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra. The first and the only woman and also incumbent President is Bibi Jagir Kaur.