Surrey’s Guru Nanak Sikh Temple will have a fresh election following the setting aside of the November results by the B.C. Supreme Court on Friday.
Temple President Balwant Singh Gill told The VOICE (just before our news deadline) that the election date will be fixed on March 13. Meanwhile, the membership list has to be corrected and completed.
The Sikh Youth’s slate headed by Amardeep Singh won the November election with 5,900 votes as the so-called moderate slates split their votes with gurdwara president Balwant Singh Gill garnering 4,747 votes and gurdwara senior vice president Sadhu Singh Samra getting 3,947 votes.
However, the defeated slates discovered that some signatures on the nomination forms were forged and they challenged the result in court.
In our January 31 issue, in an article titled - “Balwant Gill may remain president of Surrey’s Guru Nanak Sikh Temple for yet another term. Here’s why ...” - I had reported that 12 people had admitted in writing in court that somebody else signed for them on the nomination forms for the Sikh Youth slate.
Gill told me at the time: “Twelve people have accepted that they did not sign – somebody else signed for them. ... They accepted that in court in writing.”
Sources in the community had told me that Gill and Samra got suspicious that something was amiss when the Youth Slate instead of waiting to take over the gurdwara on January 1 as was the traditional way of doing things, started demanding that they be handed over the gurdwara 15 days after the election date as per a by-law.
That’s when they started checking the nomination forms and discovered that quite a few signatures didn’t look quite genuine.
Gill explained that according to the gurdwara’s rules, 25 members “in good standing” were required to sign each nomination form of the candidates.
He said: “Some people signed for others quickly. A total of 18 candidates were nominated by 74 people. Twenty-five members can nominate all of the candidates, but their name, address, postal code, membership, signature (have to be valid). ... They forged signatures. Some people got together and signed for everybody.”
Gill said that a handwriting expert had confirmed the forgeries and that consequently “none of the 18 candidates (of the Sikh youth slate) qualify (to run in the election).”
When I asked Gill why they didn’t check the validity of the signatures when the nomination forms were submitted, he said: “At that time they just checked that there were 25 nominators. But at that time we did not have time to check whether the signatures were genuine. The data base company in Richmond had the forms, as the court had ordered. We had no means to verify the signatures.”
As I wrote at the time, if another election is ordered, the slates of Gill and Samra are expected to unite – that will almost guarantee yet another victory for Gill who’s been at the helm of affairs since 1998.
Gill said that the other matter in court is that of the 2006 membership that was cancelled by the court. Those members had to get their membership reconfirmed.
Gill said: “Out of those who came and reconfirmed their membership in the gurdwara, about 2,200 to 2,500 people’s forms weren’t able to be processed because of shortage of time. So they could not vote. Those members want to know why they were not allowed to vote when they had paid for their membership. When the court wanted to know why this took place, the lawyer replied that the court gave them insufficient time for the process.”