COMPLAINT TO THE OFFICE OF ETHICS AND PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS (EPS) BY THE STUDENTS OF YOGI BHAJAN
Accountability of the SSSC Regarding Unaddressed Conflicts of Interest
The Khalsa Council is an “advisory” body to the SSSC and while it’s not a requirement for the SSSC to listen to the advice the Khalsa Council gives them, it is the only kind of check and balance there is for the SSSC at this point.
The Students of Yogi Bhajan have serious concerns about conflicts of interest in relation to the checks and balances of the SSSC and the autonomy of the Khalsa Council as an independent leadership body.
Our complaint is as follows:
There are four main leaders of the Khalsa Council. The Secretary General, the Khalsa Council Chairperson, the Chief Facilitator (Whip), and the SDI Chancellor.
- The Secretary General of the Khalsa Council also sits on the SSSC Board and was appointed to the CRT by the SSSC. We object to the fact that Gurujot Kaur has had the simultaneous leadership positions of Secretary General, CEO of SDI, member of the CRT and SSSC Board member.
- The Khalsa Council Chairperson also sits on the SSSC Board. We object to the fact that Guruka Singh has had the simultaneous leadership positions of Chairperson of the Khalsa Council and SSSC Board member
- In early 2020, Pritpal Kaur was both the Chief Facilitator (Whip) and was appointed to the CRT by the SSSC. We object to the fact that Pritpal Kaur had the simultaneous leadership positions of CEO of 3HO, member of the CRT and Chief Facilitator/Whip of the Khalsa Council.
- In late 2020, Atma Kaur was appointed as the new Chief Facilitator (Whip) and she is a paid staff person of the SSSC. We object to the fact that Atma Kaur has had the simultaneous leadership position of Chief Facilitator/Whip of the Khalsa Council and is a paid staff member of the SSSC.
In their leadership roles, these leaders participate on the Executive Committee of the Khalsa Council, which sets the agendas and approves members applying to be part of the electorate to vote on SSSC Board members.
- There is a serious conflict of interest to the Khalsa Council operating freely and with autonomy, when leaders of the Khalsa Council who are setting the agendas and running the Khalsa Council meetings, also sit on the SSSC Board.
- There is a serious conflict of interest to the Khalsa Council operating freely and with autonomy, when leaders of the Khalsa Council, who are approving applicants to become part of the electorate are also either sitting on the SSSC themselves who have been and may continue to be up for election themselves, or are paid staff members of the SSSC. These people should not be deciding on who can and cannot vote for obvious reasons.
- In their capacities as CEO of SDI, and CEO of 3HO, Gurujot Kaur and Pritpal Kaur were also appointed to the CRT by the SSSC.
Early on in the whole process of handling the allegations against the Siri Singh Sahib, the CRT and SSSC quickly came to the conclusion that he was guilty of the accusations against him. And yet, the Secretary General did not bring this, THE BIGGEST ISSUE in our Dharma EVER, as a topic for the Khalsa Council to discuss and advise the SSSC about– even when one of the SSSC Board members themselves (Ek Ong Kaar Kaur) requested to have a special Khalsa Council meeting for the members to discuss (prior to the AOB report being issued).
Instead, after the AOB report was issued, then the Secretary General simply put the topic of the AOB report on the agenda, for the Khalsa Council members to “process” their feelings about it.
This demonstrated a serious conflict of interest, with the appearance being that due to her role on the SSSC and the CRT, and the fact that she was involved in making decisions regarding the AOB report, that she did not want to engage with the Khalsa Council members, where she may have been questioned, or received push back regarding those decisions. This was a grave transgression against honoring the Khalsa Council members, as ministers and leaders of our community, and against our Spiritual Teacher, the founder of SDI and the Khalsa Council.
Gurujot Kaur, as CEO of SDI and the Secretary General of the Khalsa Council, is paid by SDI for these roles. Therefore, her first duty was to SDI and the Khalsa Council, not to furthering the agenda of the SSSC and the CRT. Her first duty should have been to involve the ministers and community members of the Khalsa Council in the discussion of THE BIGGEST ISSUE in our Dharma EVER as it was happening, and not to simply process their feelings about it after the fact.
- In addition to the Secretary General of the Khalsa Council sitting on the SSSC Board and being appointed to the CRT, her husband, Sat Want Singh, is the Executive Director of the SSSC. While the SSSC Board members are volunteers and are generally not paid for their work (except those who are appointed to the Board of Directors of the various for-profit Dharmic companies), the position of Executive Director of the SSSC is a paid position.
- In addition, Gurujot Kaur holds the simultaneous positions of CEO and Secretary General, which is appointed by the Siri Sikdar Sahiba. Upon the resignation or death of the Siri Sikdar Sahiba, the Secretary General becomes the Siri Sikdar Sahiba and appoints the next Secretary General. So, unlike a normal CEO position, who is accountable to the board of the organization, the only person who has any legal oversight over the Secretary General is the Siri Sikdar Sahiba. Currently, the Siri Sikdar Sahiba has been and is on a leave of absence.
- As part of either and/or the SSSC Board and the CRT, Gurujot Kaur, Guruka Singh and Pritpal Kaur supported the unfair and illegal investigative process, which lead to the AOB report. The SSSC attorneys advised that the AOB “investigation” was not a “criminal investigation”, and therefore did not follow the standard rules of an investigation, that 1) the accusations are not anonymous and 2) that the accused is entitled to representation. How then, was the next step, once the AOB report was released, for the SSSC to hire a company to conduct a “Restorative Justice” process?
“Restorative Justice is a theory of justice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused by criminal behavior.” ~ www.restorativejustice.org
As the Thompson Report concludes, the AOB report should not be a basis as to whether Yogi Bhajan did any of the things he is accused of. You cannot have a just outcome, if your foundation is not based on a shared truth.
In summary, people who have leadership roles in so many inter-related organizations, and have a particular point of view, can move the entire organization toward the purposes of that view. It would be very difficult to execute the objective independence that these roles require. The way it transpired, there was no daylight between them.
The danger of these incestuous relationships is precisely what happened when Unto Infinity and Roy Lambert facilitated the attempted theft of Golden Temple– there were no checks and balances or recognition of real and potential conflicts of interest. Have we learned nothing from that dark chapter in our history?
Whatever semblance of check and balance that was supposed to exist between the SSSC and the Khalsa Council is gone, which is demonstrated by:
- The Khalsa Council was never informed or able to participate as to how the allegations were handled
- Restorative Justice was deemed an appropriate next step by the SSSC and leaders of the Khalsa Council, who happen to be the same people, who were also integrally involved in determining the whole investigative process to begin with
Best practices for successful corporate governance, are that even when actual conflicts of interest are debatable, even the appearance of conflict of interest should be avoided.
The SSSC Board has been “missing in action” in its duties to make sure that our dharmic leadership entities (in this case the Khalsa Council) are operating free of such egregious conflicts of interest.
The SSSC has allowed the Secretary General of the Khalsa Council, an autonomous leadership body which supposedly acts as a check and balance to the SSSC, to also sit as an SSSC Board Member, for multiple terms.
The SSSC has allowed its own members to sit in an election for the role of Khalsa Council Chairperson, the leadership body (the Khalsa Council), which performs (at least in lip service) some form of checks and balances against itself.
All in all, 3 of the 4 main leadership roles in the Khalsa Council (Secretary General, Chairperson and Chief Whip) are currently composed of either SSSC board members, or their paid staff.
In addition, the SSSC appointed to the CRT, leadership of the Khalsa Council, Secretary General Gurujot Kaur and Chief Facilitator/Whip, Pritpal Kaur.
In addition, SSSC Board members have played an integral role in the Khalsa Council Committees/ Task Forces (either as Chairpersons of the task forces, or leading action policies in some way).
Please accept this as a formal complaint to the EPS from the Students of Yogi Bhajan. We await your response.
We would also like to note that while the EPS website does not list anyone who works for the organization, our understanding is that Guruka Kaur is the Director. In light of this complaint mentioning her husband, Guruka Singh, as both an SSSC Board member and the Khalsa Council Chairperson, and because the EPS is overseen by the SSSC, we have concern regarding a conflict of interest in the handling of this complaint. Please confirm how this will be handled. Thank you.
The Students of Yogi Bhajan