Alleged Mismanagement in Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Part 1

by Parminder Singh Sodhi

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee Sri Amritsar, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Chandigarh, apart from maintaining the historical Gurdwaras of the Sikh community, arrange educational and medical institutions under the committee, as well as residences for pilgrims and travelers. According to Gurmat, it conducts regular rituals, readings, kirtans, Shabad Vikhar, and langar in the Gurdwaras. Initially, the main purpose of establishing the Shiromani Committee was to run the Gurdwara administration smoothly and legally, with the management, service, and maintenance of the Gurdwaras as its primary function. However, the Gurdwara itself is an institution that has religious, social, educational, political, cultural, and economic connections, expanding the scope of this administrative organization. This is the reason why the Shiromani Committee is also referred to as the ‘princely state within a state.’ Naturally, the committee’s functioning, which is democratically elected through votes and consists of members belonging to a particular political party, has been influenced by politics, leading to challenges in the administrative sector.

(1) Mismanagement of one crore rupees in the sale of dry parshads in the langar ghar of Sri Darbar Sahib:

Recently, a scandal involving one crore rupees in the sale of dried Parshads in Sri Guru Ramdas Langar House of Sri Darbar Sahib has brought shame to the Sikh community. The scam came to light not through any external agency but through the Flying Department and Accounts Department of SGPC six months ago. On 15th April 2023, the matter was brought to the attention of the then Jathedar of Sri Akal Takht Sahib, Giani Harpreet Singh, who was requested to conduct a high-level impartial investigation into the manipulation in the sale of langar juice and dry rotis. Shiromani Committee President Harjinder Singh Dhami and the Executive Committee of Shiromani Committee, during the meeting dated July 4, took a tough decision to suspend 51 employees involved in this scam, including supervisors, gurdwara inspectors, langar managers, and some key managers. Two storekeepers were suspended during the preliminary investigation as per a report by Hindustan Times.

This matter that came before the Shiromani Committee also took a political turn when Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann tweeted, seeking clarification from the Shiromani Committee President, Advocate Harjinder Singh Dhami. The matter revolves around the non-deposit of auction or sale amount of dry langar parshads during the period from 1st April 2019 to December 2022. These prasads of dried and baby langar are sold through tenders, including dry bread, bran rolla, manh, and paddy, etc. The sale amount of dry parshads is collected by the storekeeper and verified by the inspector, but it was neglected by the officials of both departments. The question arises whether this significant misappropriation of Guru Ki Golak (Guru’s treasury) by two storekeepers and employees related to Langar could have happened without the protection of influential figures within the Shiromani Committee. When the scam was first discovered, the Flying Department of the Shiromani Committee suspended the two storekeepers identified in the investigation and ordered the recovery of lakhs of rupees from them. However, it is alleged that when the matter gained momentum, the Committee secretly set the recovery rate to collect the amount of manipulation in the langar and ordered dozens of officials and employees posted during the above period to deposit different amounts.

(2) Unsolved case of 328 saroops of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji

In 2020, after orders from Sri Akal Takht Sahib, it was revealed in a special investigation that 328 saroops of Sri Guru Granth Sahib were missing from the records of the Shiromani Committee. When this matter came to light through the publication department of the Shiromani Committee, it caused a commotion in the Sikh community. In May 2016, the desecration of sacred images also came to light after a short circuit at Gurdwara Ramsar Sahib, and the culprits were demanded to be punished. Even in the case of the 328 saroops, the Shiromani Committee claimed that these holy saroops were not lost but that the records had been manipulated. In this case, the senior president of the Shiromani Committee, Rajinder Singh Mehta, and the chief secretary of the committee, Dr. Roop Singh Tak, had to resign, and action was taken against dozens of employees. More details in the report by Hindustan Times.

(3) Non-action against CA Satinder Singh Kohli and his firm

Satinder Singh Kohli, a chartered accountant with SS Kohli & Associates, was one of the accused in the 328-saroop case and was a subject of discussion. Kohli had been reinstated, after being removed in 2014 by the executive of the Shiromani Committee on charges of irregularities. His chartered accountancy company, SS Kohli & Associates, was also found party in the case of the 328 saroops, revealing its complacency and negligence, in the Hindustan Times report. The timely and responsible computerization of accounts by this firm could have prevented the incident of missing 328 saroops of Guru Granth Sahib. The Shiromani Committee, upon finding Kohli guilty, decided to stop the services of SS Kohli & Associates and collect a 75 percent service charge from the firm. However, this decision has not been implemented to date, and no legal action was taken against him. Kohli was appointed as Auditor in the Shiromani Committee in 2010 and joined duty in 2011. The Inner Committee of the Shiromani Committee, in its meeting on 11-07-2014 under Resolution No. 1542, found Kohli guilty of not properly carrying out his accounting duties, ignoring the decisions of the committee, and unnecessarily interfering in administrative work. This led to a scandal in the media, and Kohli’s firm’s contract was terminated. The letter issued by then Secretary Dilmegh Singh on 14-07-2014 confirms this. The question arises: Why has the 75 percent service charge not been collected from this firm so far?

to be continued . . . . . .

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Khalsa Vox or its members.

Parminder Singh Sodhi

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