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Penticton  

Priest leaves after suit

UPDATE: 10 a.m.

A priest at a Penticton Sikh Temple has allegedly left the temple and a suit against him has been dropped, according to a member of the congregation on Sunday. 

The Penticton Sikh Temple and Indian Cultural Society filed a civil claim against an employee, saying that though the man was fired, he has refused to leave his residence in the temple. 

One of the congregation members said the suit against the former priest has been dropped. 

“The entire congregation was notified by the Executive Committee Members,” he said. 


ORIGINAL: 5 a.m.

The Penticton Sikh Temple and Indian Cultural Society have filed a civil claim against an employee, saying that though the man was fired, he has refused to leave his residence in the temple. 

The civil claim, filed in Kelowna Supreme Court on Dec. 28, names Jasbir Singh as the defendant, and describes him as "a priest formerly employed by the [Penticton Sikh Temple and Indian Cultural Society]." 

According to the claim, Singh was first employed as a contract employee in 2015 but was upgraded to a regular employment position in 2016. As part of his position, he was granted a small sleeping room to live in in the temple, and use of the communal kitchen though he was not required to take advantage of either. 

His responsibilities included leading services at the Temple at dawn and dusk, and acting as a spiritual leader and counsellor for the roughly 640-member congregation.

Additional duties included Diwans on Sundays, which are prayer meetings lasting from roughly 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and conducting birth ceremonies, baptisms, weddings, funerals and the like. 

In July 2018, alleges the claim, the Society began having issues with Singh's performance of these duties. He was given a disciplinary letter in November, which they claim had no effect. Then in December, a member of the congregation alleged Singh had "began a tirade against him which included a profanity and a threat."

On Dec. 17, Singh was fired, and notified immediately. However, the civil claim alleges Singh has refused to move out of the temple, and continues to insist on performing his daily duties. 

The claim is seeking interim and permanent orders that Singh vacate the temple and remove his belongings, cease interfering with operations of the Society and provide costs to offset the legal proceeding if he chooses to oppose the suit. 

The Society's lawyer, Alfred Kempf, provided his argument of legal basis in the claim, saying that Singh is "trespassing" in this case since the lodging was provided on the basis of employment, and adding that the Residential Tenancy Act does not apply in this case because Singh did not have his own premises, only a sleeping room. 

Castanet has been unable to reach Jasbir Singh for comment at this time.

None of the above allegations have been proven in court.  



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