Sikh Sangat B.C. slams Vancouver`s Khalsa Diwan Society for misleading media about ‘winning court challenge’

Photo by Chandra Bodalia
Photo by Chandra Bodalia

LAST week, Vancouver’s Ross Street Gurdwara announced that they had won a court challenge and the new executive committee of the Khalsa Diwan Society took charge on May 1.

It added that the Executive Committee that was elected by acclamation will function from 2015 to 2017.

However, the opposition Sikh group, the Sikh Sangat B.C., sent court documents to the media this week to show that “they did not win a court challenge rather they received permission to keep control until the court case is heard.”

The group added: “The delay in providing documents in a timely manner allowed time to pass.  [Former Gurdwara President] Sohan Singh Deo’s affidavit of his age and reluctance to serve any longer and wishes to retire played a part as this is a volunteer position and a court cannot force people to keep serving if they do not wish to. His term had expired.”

Deo’s affidavit states: “I want to retire and have Mr. [Kuldip S.] Thandi take over.” The Sikh Sangat noted: “In court his affidavit mentions retirement but he is still on the NEW unelected committee.  Sikh Sangat opposed this “takeover” but the society said that whatever the case outcome will be this “takeover” will not have any effect on it.  This is only a temporary measure, therefore the judge allowed it and on the basis of the affidavits.”

The group added: “In the end this was just another waste of money.  Deo had served four extra months and another two would not have done him any harm if he was looking after the best interests of the society.  He should have waited until this mess was cleared up.  Instead it just seems they want to keep control and this effort is a very good public relations campaign. Everyone will think that the judge allowed the committee to take over but they don’t know the facts that this is only a temporary measure. The court case will take place in the coming months and all facts will be heard.”

The Sikh Sangat further pointed out that “Thandi also stated in affadavits “that the time has now come for Mr. Deo to retire and for my group to take over.”  He also added “that we may take office, if only temporary.””

In addition the incumbents stated in their affidavit that “we are prepared to agree that the Petition, whenever it is heard, should proceed as though it were being heard on or before December 31, 2014, and that the fact that the new Executive may have taken office will not prejudice the Petitioner’s in any way.”

The Sikh Sangat noted: “Therefore, the “elected by acclamation” committee will not serve until 2017 but rather until the outcome of the court case.”   Also this is the same group with just eight different people changed and the rest are returning.  If it’s the same group, same people and nothing will change why were they in a rush to impose this unelected committee on the society?  Why did they not just wait until everything was resolved or better yet should have dealt with all the issues last year?  Again we challenge all executives to play fairly and if there are any challenges to the legitimacy of the election process that the committee members pay for their own legal bills.  Those in power can keep the legal fight going with the most expensive lawyers while the opposition pays on their own.  All these hearings are expensive and a waste of donations.”

The Sikh Sangat added: “We have been requesting information since last year. Only with lawyer intervention it has been provided even then in bits and pieces.  Even in February it took three attempts to get the required documents. Some of the requests were only recently met. Their last submission is said to be “complete” which we are now reviewing. We are looking for bank statements, financials, membership information and receipt books.  Every member should have the right to access and view these documents at any time and not have to knock on the legal door.”