Sikhs divided over whether Surrey temple executives should be baptized believers only

Published: November 14, 2012

Worshippers attend the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara Temple on 120th Street in Surrey, B.C. May 30, 2012. Ric Ernst/PNG

TOM ZYTARUK
SURREY NOW

A serious division remains at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey over whether temple executive committee membership should be restricted to baptized believers only.

The B.C. Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal of Justice Laura Gerow’s decision to invalidate the passing of a controversial resolution, put forward at a temple meeting in June 2011, to restrict executive committee membership to baptized Sikhs only.

The B.C. Supreme Court judge found inadequate notice was given to the congregation’s 30,000 or so members concerning the proposed amendment.

To be a member of Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara, one of North America’s largest Sikh temples, one must be at least 18 years old, a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant, live in Surrey, Delta or White Rock, and, of course, believe in Sikhism.

In November 2009, the temple’s current executive, known as the Sikh Youth Executive, was elected. All members of that slate are baptized.

More than 20,000 of the temple society’s membership – a majority of them are not baptized – voted in that election.

In June 2011, there was a meeting where a number of resolutions to amend the temple society’s bylaws were presented, one of which was to limit membership to the executive to the baptized only.

“There is no issue that this is a significant change to the bylaws and would result in the majority of the members of the society being ineligible to run for election for the executive,” Gerow noted in January, after the matter went to court.

Gerow nixed the resolution, finding that inadequate notice was given to members about the vote. In setting the resolution aside, she noted that a society cannot pass bylaws that violate the Society Act.

The judge stated in her reasons for decision that she believes “the court has no role is a religious debate” but added that “given the divisiveness of the issue, it is my view that it is also appropriate to order that any proper amendment to the qualifications for designated offices be overseen by an independent observer.”

Gerow’s decision to invalidate the resolution was appealed. On Nov. 2, Justice John Hall, of B.C.’s appeal court, upheld Gerow’s decision following a court hearing in Vancouver.

“This case appears to involve at its heart a controversy between what might be termed certain of the ‘old guard’ members of the society and some younger members,” Hall observed.

Hall did, however, question her order that an independent observer should oversee any future vote on this resolution.

“Such an order immediately raises the query of how the term ‘independent’ should be construed,” Hall stated in his reasons for decision. “One party’s ‘independent observer’ might be considered highly biased by another party. If an order of this sort is to be made, I consider it could only be made after a process wherein respective parties put forward suggestions as to who might properly be chosen to undertake such a function.

“By such procedure,” Hall said, “a court would be enabled to properly assess who might be appointed to perform such a function. I venture to observe that if proper notice of a meeting were to be afforded to members of the society and a transparent methodology adopted for conduct of a meeting, no ‘observer’ should be required.”

For more Surrey news, visit Surrey Now.






Featured

crime-British Columbia

Three arrested after Surrey RCMP-involved shooting in Newton

AMY REID SURREY NOW NEWTON — Three people are in custody following a police-involved shooting in Newton Friday afternoon. Shortly after noon, plainclothes officers attempted to…
Continue Reading »

Immigrant-language test

Woman loses Canadian citizenship for failing language, knowledge tests after it was granted in error

ADRIAN HUMPHREYS POSTMEDIA NEWS A would-be Canadian who received a grade of zero out of six on her citizenship language test and four out of…
Continue Reading »

India-Kashmir-Obama

Pakistani PM Sharif asks Obama to play role for resolution of Kashmir issue

MUNIR AHMED THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ISLAMABAD — Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday asked the U.S. President Barack Obama to play a role in…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

crime-British Columbia

Three arrested after Surrey RCMP-involved shooting in Newton

AMY REID SURREY NOW NEWTON — Three people are in custody following a police-involved shooting in Newton Friday afternoon. Shortly after noon, plainclothes officers attempted to…
Continue Reading »

Whitecaps2

Spice Sports: Whitecaps announce new USL PRO team!

GOPI AND THE GORA FOR VANCOUVER DESI An exciting announcement was made this morning at UBC’s Gerald McGavin Rugby Centre. Soccer fans in Vancouver will…
Continue Reading »

Immigrant-language test

Woman loses Canadian citizenship for failing language, knowledge tests after it was granted in error

ADRIAN HUMPHREYS POSTMEDIA NEWS A would-be Canadian who received a grade of zero out of six on her citizenship language test and four out of…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

desi bride loaded in gold

Indian bride draws flak for wearing $700,000 jewellery at her wedding

CEN AGENCY An Indian sweet maker made sure his daughter was the golden girl at her upcoming wedding by covering her in gold jewellery worth…
Continue Reading »

India

Video: Bear mauls Indian farmer to death, injures second man (Warning: Graphic Content)

VANCOUVER DESI An Indian farmer was mauled to death and another left seriously injured after a terrifying and unusual bear attack in Karnataka on Monday,…
Continue Reading »

Spiderman

Video: India’s real-life Spiderman scales buildings with bare hands

VANCOUVER DESI A 27-year-old man in India who is nicknamed the “real-life Spiderman” has become one of Karnataka’s leading tourist attractions for his ability to effortlessly…
Continue Reading »

desi victim

Victim of ski accident to open spinal-cord recovery centre in Richmond (w/video)

NICK EAGLAND VANCOUVER DESI Dhruv Kapoor realized he was in deep trouble as he barrelled down a ski run in Russell, Man., on an icy…
Continue Reading »

op-ed

Aziza Sindhu: How do you grieve for a tyrant father?

AZIZA SINDHU CALGARY HERALD My father, Salim M. Sindhu, passed away on Nov. 10. As a child, I wished he smiled at me, as a…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Bollywood sex video

I can’t take nonsense: Sonakshi Sinha on why she lashed out at KRK on Twitter (w/gallery)

HINDUSTAN TIMES Some Bollywood stars tend to be diplomatic about controversies, and choose not to react. Sonakshi Sinha isn’t one of them. Last month, she…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood wedding reception

Photos: Khan-tastic wedding reception for Salman’s sister Arpita

VANCOUVER DESI While celebrities have reached the wedding reception for Salman Khans sister Arpita and businessman Aayush Sharma to wish them their best, photos have…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood-cricket

Cricketer Virat Kohli confirms he is dating Bollywood beauty Anushka Sharma

HINDUSTAN TIMES Remember we reported a few days ago how Virat Kohli said he had no problems blowing a kiss on field, the way he…
Continue Reading »