Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Canadian Court Invalidates Meeting of Sikh Temple, Finding Inadequate Notice

In Grewal v. Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara Society, (BC CA, Nov. 2, 2012), the Court of Appeal for the Canadian province of British Columbia upheld a lower court ruling that invalidated a resolution changing the qualifications for election to the Sikh temple's Executive Committee. The case was triggered by a dispute between "old guard" members of the Gurdwara, many of whom are "non-baptized" Sikhs, and younger members who are baptized and who were elected to the Executive Committee in 2009. The Sikh Youth Executive obtained passage by members in 2010 of new provisions for giving notice of Gurdwara meetings. Instead of giving notice by mail, effective notice could be given by publication in English language and Punjabi language newspapers with a circulation of over 10,000, plus publication on the Gurdwara's website and posting a notice on a bulletin board in the hall of the temple.  At the 2011 meeting, called using this procedure, members changed the qualifications for election to the Executive Committee. Now only baptized Sikhs were eligible.

In invalidating that change, the court concluded that the notice given for the meeting did not meet the requirements of province's Society Act, Sec. 60:
There was evidence that certain of the newspaper notices were contained in papers not circulated but given away at certain locations.  It seems to me that it would be difficult to demonstrate that such a methodology could ever be the type of notice contemplated to be given to members of a society pursuant to s. 60 of the Act....  A “giveaway” paper is obviously a wholly inadequate vessel for the giving of proper notice.
The court also suggested, without deciding, that it was not adequate to give notice in papers having a circulation as low as 10,000 when the Society had over 30,000 members. Surrey Now reports on the decision.