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Guru Ravidass Society Loses Case Against Dissidents

This Week, the LINK Is Reporting On Three Separate Religious Conflicts In Vancouver!

On Monday, the Supreme Court of British Columbia rendered a judgement against Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha (Vancouver), and its president Bill Basra, according to releases sent by Harvey Kooner, who is a friend of the Petitioner Michael Ghirra, and Petitioner Tej Pal Ganger .

By R. Paul Dhillon

BURNABY  – This week, the LINK is reporting on three separate religious society conflicts in the lower mainland, two that have been resolved in courts and another that is threatening to go to court.

Court decisions were handed down in conflicts at Surrey Hindu Temple and Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha (Vancouver) and the opposition slate at the Khalsa Diwan Society (Ross Street Gurdwara) is threatening to take the management at that temple to court to get a fair election process ahead of elections later this year.

On Monday, the Supreme Court of British Columbia rendered a judgement against Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha (Vancouver), and its president Bill Basra, according to releases sent by Harvey Kooner, who is a friend of the Petitioner Michael Ghirra, and Petitioner Tej Pal Ganger .

The ruling was the end result of an action brought against the Society by three of its members, Micheal Ghirra (one of the proprietors of Riverside Hall), Tej Pal Ganger, and former temple president Harjit Sohpaul.

According to the press release, the three brought the action in response to the conduct of the Society president at the January 19, 2014 extraordinary general meeting of the Society.

“At the EGM, the Society’s executive, led by Bill Basra, attempted to pass resolutions which would have extended their own term in office for an additional two years,” said the press release.

“In a resounding defeat for Bill Basra and his executive team, Mr. Justice Grauer struck down the resolutions rendering them “null and void”. Mr. Justice Grauer found that the Society had breached the Society’s own bylaws, thereby allowing the Supreme Court to interfere with the Society’s affairs.

“The defeat is a major blow against Bill Basra and his executive team, who are attempting the sell the Society’s premises and build a new Gurdwara at a different location. The sale has been wrought with controversy and has become highly polarizing among the Society’s members,” said the Petitioners’ press release.

Society President Bill Basra, who did not respond with his own press release, has not yet decided on how he will proceed.

According to temple officials, who did not want to go on record, the information being put out to the media is not totally accurate.

According to the release, the key issue arose when Ghirra made a motion, under the Society’s bylaws, to have the EGM vote held by way of a secret ballot. The petitioners alleged that the Chair, Bill Basra, failed to follow the Society’s Bylaws by not allowing the motion to be heard. The Supreme Court agreed with the petitioners.

“We did not want to go to court!” Ghirra said. “Before the [EGM] we had sent a letter to Bill Basra asking him to make sure that he runs the meeting impartially. Most importantly, we requested that the voting at the EGM be done by way of a secret ballot.”

Ghirra continued: “we were given assurances by Bill Basra, through the Society’s lawyer, that we would be able to speak at the EGM.” Ghirra concluded, “When Bill Basra failed to follow the Society’s bylaws, we were left with no recourse other than going to court”.

“The judgement was clear – the society’s bylaws are important and must be abided by. No one is above the law.” Stated Tej Pal Ganger, who closely followed the proceedings. He added, “Executives must remember that their actions are governed by law and they cannot act unilaterally”.

Harjit Sohpaul, a former Society president and petitioner in the proceedings, stated, “For us, this action was about justice and the ability of members to decide the society’s direction”, he continued, “The executive cannot act without the wishes of its members.”

Sohpaul also spoke out in favour of Ghirra’s motion, “As past society president, it is very important for our Society’s members to be respectful to one another – and a part of that respect is to make sure we simply follow our own rules.”

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