Indo-Canadian 'guru' loses $1-m battle

Sify News - India/January 7, 2003

A Canadian Sikh spiritual leader, who persuaded a dying woman to sign him her property worth more than one million dollars in return for curing her breast cancer, has lost another legal battle to keep the estate.

The British Columbia Court of Appeal ordered Amar Singh to deposit a large security before he can proceed with his appeal of a ruling that found he improperly influenced Surinder Kaur Sidhu to sign over the land, a Vancouver Sun report said.

Last week's ruling by Justice Kenneth Smith followed a ruling in June by the BC Supreme Court that ordered Singh to return property valued at about 1.3 million dollars which he got by convincing Sidhu he could cure her cancer, the report added.

The lower court judge ordered Singh to return the land in suburban Surrey to Sidhu's sole remaining heir, her daughter Tage.

In July, Singh appealed. In October, the trial judge handed down supplementary reasons, ordering Singh to pay to the plaintiffs $155,000 in assessed costs of the action and $172,000 for ''adjustments'' in respect of the land, according to Vancouver Sun.

Singh subsequently asked the court for a stay of proceedings on those trial court orders pending the hearing of his appeal.

But the Appeal Court judge rejected the application and also ordered him to deposit a security totalling 310,000 dollars for trial and appeal costs because he felt Singh's appeal had little chance of success, the Vancouver Sun said.

In the lower court ruling, the judge said he agreed with the family's contention that Sidhu and Singh ''both understood and agreed that if she transferred the land to him, she would be cured and the property would be used as the site of a temple to be built in her name and in her honour.''

But soon after getting the land in 1997, Singh attempted to sell it. At that point Sidhu's family stepped in, suing on behalf of Tage, who was 15 at the time.

''This was a tainted transaction procured by undue influence,'' Vancouver Sun quoted the lower court as having said. Sidhu gave the land -- her entire estate -- to Singh about two months before she died in May 3, 1997.

The family argued that Singh, regarded by some Sikhs around the world as someone specially gifted to intercede with God on behalf of the faithful, used undue influence on Sidhu, who was in an advanced stage of terminal breast cancer.

According to Vancouver Sun, Singh also said he did not own the land and that it was owned by the Nanaksar Thath Ishar Darbar, an Ontario-based society incorporated to own a temple in Mississauga.

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