MEHTĀB SIṄGH, SARDĀR BAHĀDUR (1879-1938), lawyer and legislator who became closely associated with the Gurdwārā Reform movement, was born in 1879 at the village of Haḍālī, in Shāhpur district, now in Pakistan, to Hazūr Siṅgh and Karam Kaur. His father died when he was barely four years old. Mehtāb Siṅgh had his early education at the village school and passed the Entrance examination from Central Model School, Lahore, in 1895. The same year, he proceeded to England where he studied law for three years, returning to India in 1898 as a barrister-at-law. He started legal practice at Shāhpur. In 1910, he was appointed government pleader at Fīrozpur and, subsequently, transferred to Lahore. He was honoured by the government with the titles successively of Sardār Sāhib (1915) and Sardār Bahādur (1918). In 1920, he was elected to the Punjab Legislative Council and became its vice-president. He, however, resigned this office as well as his membership of the Council on 11 November 1921, as a protest against government taking away keys of the Golden Temple toshākhānā or treasury and plunged into the Gurdwārā Reform movement. Mehtāb Siṅgh was made vice-president of the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee. On 26 November 1921, he was arrested at Ajnālā in an Akālī dīvān on the charge of making a seditious speech and sentenced to 6 months' imprisonment, with a fine of Rs 1,000. In the absence of Sardār Khaṛak Siṅgh in jail, Mehtāb Siṅgh acted as president of the Shiromaṇī Committee. He was again arrested in the Gurū kā Bāgh morchā on 14 September 1922. He remained in custody until 14 March 1923. On 12 October 1923, the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee and the Shiromaṇī Akālī Dal were declared by the government unlawful organizations, and principal Akālī leaders including Mehtāb Siṅgh were put under arrest. Mehtāb Siṅgh was one of the first batch of 20 Akālī leaders released following their endorsement of a statement drafted by an Akālī leader and read in the court on 25 January 1926, renouncing any further direct action and offering to implement the provisions of the Gurdwārā Act under which Sikh shrines were proposed to be made over to a representative board of the Sikhs. Some other Akālī leaders refused to give such an assurance and stayed behind in jail. Although Mehtāb Siṅgh was aligned with one of the two groups—Bābā Khaṛak Siṅgh's as against Master Tārā Siṅgh's, his counsel continued to be sought in Sikh affairs generally. He participated in the All-Parties Sikh Conference at Amritsar on 29 January 1928 convened to determine the attitude of the Sikhs towards the Simon Commission sent to India by the British government. The Conference resolved to boycott the Commission. Mehtāb Siṅgh was one of the seven delegates to All-Parties Conference at Delhi on 24 February 1928. At the All-Parties Convention at Calcutta on 28-29 December 1928, he strongly challenged Mr M.A. Jinnāh's claim to 56 per cent representation for the Muslims in the Punjab and 33 per cent at the Centre. He was president of the committee for the notified Sikh Gurdwārā at Nankāṇā Sāhib from 1933 to 1936.
Mehtāb Siṅgh died of a heart attack on 23 May 1938 while arguing a case in the High Court at Lahore.
Kulwant Siṅgh Virk