Convenor and Secretary of the North Shore Sikh Association (NSSA) Gurdeep Singh has called for a committee by consensus as the election process to the Turramurra Gurudwara committee is turning out to be “divisive and acrimonious”.
Last month a notice of AGM was issued notifying all members of the NSSA that an AGM was to be held on Saturday 17 May 2014. The AGM would also have elected the members of the Executive Committee and Trust Board for the year 2014.
Nominations were invited for the positions of President, Senior Vice President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Assistant Secretary, Assistant Treasurer, Social Secretary and five other members of the Executive Committee. Nominations were also invited for the positions of Chairperson, Vice Chairperson, Convenor, Financial Controller and three other members of the Trust Board.
Factionalism and differences have reportedly created a charged atmosphere similar to what is usually witnessed during election campaigns. Among the items on the agenda was a special resolution:
That in line with the NSW Government policy, the NSSA of Sydney be registered with Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) as a company limited by guarantee and that, subsequent to the registration of such a company, the prescribed application be made to the NSW Department of Fair Trading in order to deregister the NSSA of Sydney Inc from its current status as an incorporated association.
That the Executive Committee and the Trust Board (of the NSSA), to be elected
at the AGM of the Year 2014, shall engage an independent accountants’ and/or auditors’ firm of repute in order to carry out a forensic audit of the membership
(of the NSSA) and that, such forensic audit is to exclude those Founder Trustees, Ordinary Trustee Members and Ordinary Members of the Association whose membership details were previously audited by court order.
Differences over both these matters have led to a deadlock and on 14 May a Notice of Adjournment of the Annual General Meeting and of the elections was issued notifying members that the AGM will be held before or on 31 August 2014. As the adjournment is for a period in excess of 30 days, a fresh notice of the AGM will be issued.
The notice of adjournment dated 14/05/2014 says
“The adjournment of the AGM has been necessitated because of the legal letters threatening court action by a small group of members. Although the stated grounds for the intended legal action by these members would not have stood the scrutiny of the court, it was still thought prudent by the Association that even a remote chance of litigation should be avoided”.
The notice further stated
“Initial legal advice obtained by the Association in this matter emphasised that the case of the small group of members against the Association and the individual Committee and Board members had no chance of succeeding at the Court. However, if anyone actually went to Court to obtain an injunction against the holding of the scheduled AGM, the Association would have to spend many thousands of dollars on legal and Court fees etc. to just put in a response to a Court action and state our case. It is indeterminate how long then the Court case would continue, and [it] consume much more funds and potentially divide the community.”
The notice concluded with the statement
“Those who intended to take the Association to Court will now be invited separately to come forward and enter into discussions with the Association and participate towards the welfare of the Sangat and help the Association to mitigate their concerns on all matters”.
In order to resolve the matter amicably Secretary Gurdeep Singh has asked members to come forward and iron out their differences through discussion aiming for consensus because, in his view, the management of the Gurdwara is to be done “through voluntary service and is not to be seen as some form of a power over our fellow devotees. The words like ‘election’ come in because of the necessity to satisfy the requirements of the law under which Associations or Companies are registered”.
Speaking to The Indian Sun, Gurdeep Singh said that he is happy to pursue his other interests and leave the Gurdwara committee behind him. According to him, being in the management committee of the Gurdwara is time consuming and such voluntary service must be shared by dedicated volunteers on a rotational basis through voluntary processes by consensus amongst members and the general Sangat in the spirit of Sikhism. According to Gurdeep, personal rivalries and animosity have no place in the smooth running of religious and charity organisations because these rivalries and animosities actually hamper the growth of the institution.