~ Frequently Asked Questions ~
The Independent Healing and Reparations Program (the “IHRP” or the “Program”) is an independent program created to further the overarching Compassionate Reconciliation Project undertaken by the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation (“SSSC”) and its affiliated entities. Through the IHRP, the SSSC wishes to extend care to those who are hurting, offer independent monetary determinations designed to allow each individual participant to control their own healing, and work to repair the individual harms reported by current or former members of the Sikh Dharma and Kundalini Yoga community (“Community”). The Program does not replace, but rather supplements, initiatives already undertaken by SSSC to help address experiences of harm and promote healing in the Community. It is also anticipated additional programs and healing initiatives will be undertaken in the future.
The IHRP will begin with an online registration period from June 8, 2022 to August 19, 2022. Everyone interested in learning more about the IHRP and potentially participating should register. Registration is not a commitment to participate. All potentially eligible registrants will receive a claim form to review and submit if they wish to do so.
After the registration process concludes, the claims period will be open from September 1, 2022 to December 31, 2022. Potentially eligible claimants may submit their completed claim forms any time during the claims period. Submission of the completed claim form will initiate the claims process for that individual.
Individuals are encouraged to participate in the Program during the schedule detailed above, but late registrations and claims may be considered by the Administrators on a case-by-case basis and may be allowed provided good cause for the delay is established by the individual submitting a late registration or claim.
The Program will be administered by Independent Claims Administrators—one or more thirdparty professionals unaffiliated with the Community. The Administrators will have a diverse range of experiences and skills, including experience administering reparations programs and settlement funds, mediating, facilitating, and/or otherwise addressing reports of individualized harm (“Administrators”). More information about the specific Administrators will be available soon.
The Administrators will have sole decision-making authority in determining whether claimants meet the eligibility requirements of the Program, assessing the claims presented, and making reparations decisions. SSSC has agreed to abide by the Administrators’ determinations and promptly pay all awards accepted by claimants.
The Program and the Administrators will be monitored by a Program Compliance Advisor (“Compliance Advisor”) who will ensure the IHRP Protocol is followed, and act as an independent resource and liaison to help resolve any questions or issues about the Program. The Compliance Advisor has authority to replace an Administrator if necessary. However, neither the Compliance Advisor, SSSC, nor any affiliated entity has the authority to modify or reject the Administrators’ individual claim determination governing eligibility and compensation, or to act as an appeal board for any participant. More information about the person appointed to serve as the Compliance Advisor will be available soon.
The Claimant Support Facilitator (“Facilitator”) is a resource available upon request to offer emotional support to IHRP claimants during the claims process. The Facilitator will be trained in victim advocacy and/or support services, and will be available to meet with claimants by telephone or video conference as they wish.
The Facilitator is intended to help with process and support issues, but is not an advocate for any individual claimant. The Facilitator will be a resource to discuss the Program, provide supportive listening, assist participants in answering the questions on the claim form, and help participants articulate the harms experienced and impacts on their lives. If requested by a claimant, the Facilitator may also offer recommendations for future support services, such as therapy or counseling (individual, group, relationship, marital, family, substance abuse, and career), alternative therapies, outpatient addiction treatment services, or spiritual counseling from any faith. Depending on the need, the Facilitator may involve additional staff to support this work.
The services of the Facilitator are completely optional and not required for the processing and final determination of a claim. The Facilitator is not involved in any determinations as to claim eligibility or the amount of reparations to be awarded.
Additional information will be made available soon about the Facilitator appointed to support the
IHRP and how to request the Facilitator’s support.
The Program is available to eligible claimants who report the following experiences of harm:
- Claims of harm experienced by any student or other minor from the Community who attended a Community-affiliated or Community-promoted boarding school program in India, Community ashram exchange program, Community-run camp, or other Community-run youth program,1 regardless of when the harm occurred, including reported sexual abuse, physical abuse, and emotional or mental harm whether perpetrated by a staff member or peer; or other harm related to poor conditions at the school/camp for which the school/camp had responsibility and control; and
- Claims of sexual abuse perpetrated by any non-school related Community leader or member within institutional control,2 regardless of when the harm occurred.
However, individuals who have previously entered into a settlement agreement that released all liability for the harm are not eligible to participate in the Program.
If a person with one of the above claims of harm has a legal representative, that representative may register or file a claim on their behalf by including proof of representative capacity with their submission. It is not necessary to have an attorney to participate in the Program. The involvement of an attorney does not increase or decrease the Administrators’ award, which is based solely on the information provided to the Administrators, not legal arguments.
The Administrators will have the sole discretion to determine who may be eligible to submit a claim and receive an offer of compensation. The eligibility criteria set out above and in the Protocol are not intended to address the full range of potential facts and circumstances surrounding experiences of harm in connection with the Community. If you believe you may be eligible, please register for the Program and allow the Administrators to review the facts specific to your claim to determine if you may be eligible for reparations.
1 India school harm is eligible for reparations if it was experienced by a Community member while attending one or more of the following schools or programs: Guru Nanak Fifth Centenary School (“GNFC”), Guru Ram Das Academy (“GRD”), Sant Singh Sukha School (“4S”), school programs associated with “A Block” and “D Block,” and Miri Piri Academy (“MPA”). In addition, harms experienced at Community-run exchange programs, camps, and other youth programs within the control of SSSC, an affiliated entity, or predecessor entity are eligible for reparations.
2 For the purposes of the IHRP, a “Community leader or member within institutional control” means a person employed by, expressly acting as a representative of, or subject to day-to-day direction, oversight, and control by SSSC or one of its affiliated entities, including predecessor entities. For example, a claim against Yogi Bhajan, a leader of a local ashram, or a Sikh Dharma minister acting in their ministerial capacity would meet this definition and be eligible for the IHRP. However, a claim against an independent yoga teacher, even if certified in Kundalini Yoga, would not be eligible because the accused person was not employed by, expressly acting as a representative of, or subject to day-to-day direction, oversight, or control by SSSC, KRI, or another entity. Likewise, claims against a member of someone’s family, another ashram resident, or a fellow yoga student also would not meet this definition.
Yes. Individuals who meet the eligibility requirements may seek compensation through the Program regardless of whether they consider themselves current or former members of the Sikh Dharma or Kundalini Yoga community.
Yes. The Protocol and these Frequently Asked Questions will be made available in a variety of languages shortly, as will the claim form and other program materials as needed.
No. There is no fee associated with registering for or filing a claim with the Program. You may, however, separately incur fees if you choose to engage certain professionals’ services, including retaining a lawyer to represent you in the Program. The Program will not pay for or reimburse such fees. The Program was designed so that participants do not need an attorney to navigate the claims process. Moreover, the Program is committed to ensuring parity in the compensation awards offered to represented and unrepresented participants. Unrepresented participants who wish to accept their compensation offer will be provided with an independent lawyer, free of charge, who will fully explain the terms of the release of liability.
No. Merely participating in the IHRP by registering, submitting a claim, and receiving a claim determination does not affect a participant’s legal rights. They fully retain any and all legal rights they may have until they sign the Release required to collect the compensation offer made by the Administrators. If they wish to accept their compensation offer and receive payment, the Release they must sign does discharge SSSC, its affiliated entities, and various other parties from any liability they may have for any claims arising out of events that occurred prior to the date of signing. This waives the participant’s right to go to court to sue any party related to the harm addressed by the Program. However, nothing in the Release will limit or preclude the claimant from reporting and discussing their claim with law enforcement.
Each claimant will decide how much or how little information they feel comfortable sharing with the Program. Once a registrant is determined to be eligible to submit a claim, they are provided with a claim form and invited to submit corroborating or supporting documentation to allow the Administrators to review, process, and evaluate the claim, but they are not required to do so. The Administrators will be provided with basic information by the SSSC and its affiliated entities, such as information on students/attendees in the eligible programs, so participants will only need to submit their dates of attendance.
This is entirely up to each individual claimant. However, supporting documentation that provides evidence of the nature, frequency, location and time of the harm will assist the Administrators. Examples of the types of documentation that may be helpful include:
- Notification of the harm (in the form of an email, a letter or other written communication) made contemporaneously by the participant to friends, family, organizational officials, law enforcement authorities, or others;
- Medical records, counseling records, or therapy notes for treatment received relevant to the harm;
- Police or other law enforcement agency’s records or findings related to the harm; and/or
- Contemporaneous corroboration of the factual circumstances of the claim, including photographs, letters, etc.;
- A narrative statement from the claimant providing additional details about the harm and impact of the harm on their life;
- Narrative statements written by a claimant’s friends, family, and/or witnesses to the harm or impacts of the harm.
As the IHRP is not intended to be a reimbursement program, participants do not need to submit receipts for prior expenses related to treatment for the harms experienced, such as counseling or medical expenses. However, to the extent such receipts are records that provide corroboration for the claim itself, they may be submitted and the Administrators will consider them for that purpose.
Once a participant’s complete claim form and any supporting documentation are received, it will be reviewed by the Administrators on a rolling basis. The Administrators commit to processing each claim promptly, with the goal of an average claim processing time of 90 days or less from receipt of a completed claim to issuance of a claim determination. Once the Administrators have completed their review, participants will be notified in writing either of the determination of their claim or of deficiencies in their submission that need to be addressed before a final determination can be reached.
If your claim is deficient in any way, the Administrators will notify you and work with you to resolve the issue. No claim will be deemed ineligible or not awarded compensation because of a deficiency without first giving the claimant a reasonable opportunity to respond and address the issue.
No. Although meeting with Program participants can be very helpful to the Administrators as they make their claim determinations and some participants may find a meeting cathartic and healing, there is no obligation that participants meet with the Administrators for their claim to be deemed complete and eligible for determination.
Yes. Participants may request to meet in person (if feasible), telephonically, or by video conference with the Administrators to discuss their claim. They may also meet with the Claimant Support Facilitator if they so desire. Participants are welcome to bring a support person or persons, such as a family member or friend, to any and all meetings they attend as part of their claim process.
The IHRP Administrators have final decision-making authority to determine who is eligible for compensation and the amount of any reparations offer. They will make their determinations based upon their experience and judgment, and consistent with the IHRP Protocol. The determination process includes the following elements:
- The Administrators will evaluate complete claims in a prompt and fair manner.
- Consistent with the terms and conditions of the Protocol, any final decision rendered by the Administrators pertaining to an individual claim is fully binding on SSSC. SSSC does not have the authority to reject any final decisions rendered by the Administrators.
- The Administrators will issue each claimant a written determination explaining whether they are eligible and, if so, offering them an amount of reparations the claimant can accept or decline.
- Acceptance of payment from the Administrators will require the participant to execute a full Release.
- Each participant will have 60 days from the date they receive their compensation offer to decide if they want to accept the offer and to return the required Release.
- The Program will keep confidential all personal claimant information received from individuals participating in the IHRP, except for the limited purposes detailed in Section D of the Protocol.
The Administrators will review claims on a rolling basis as they are received. After the Administrators make their final determination of a participant’s claim, they will send the participant their compensation offer and a blank form of the Release. If the participant chooses to accept the offer, they must consult with either their own attorney or the pro bono attorney provided by the Program to be sure they fully understand the terms of the Release. After this consultation, the participant must sign the Release, have it notarized, and return the original to the Administrators. Once the fully executed Release is returned, the Administrators will transmit payment promptly to the participant.
Payments will be issued by the Program following receipt of the participant’s signed Release. The Program will authorize payment to the participant by check or electronic funds transfer, per the participant’s request. Checks will be sent by overnight courier service. If so requested by the participant, the Administrators will work with the participant to offer alternatives to lump-sum payments, such as options for payments over time.
The Administrators are experienced and neutral third parties whose goal is to fairly compensate participants in the IHRP who are eligible for reparations. Their final determination for every claim will be made independently and is binding on SSSC. There is no formal appeal process by which a claimant can overturn their determination. If you ultimately decide that you do not wish to accept the Administrators’ compensation offer, you may decline the offer. Participants retain any and all legal rights they may have until they accept an offer, and sign and return the Release to the Administrators.
Yes, if a reparations award is accepted, it will impact participation in SSSC’s separate program to extend free, confidential professional counseling services to any person alleging harm as a result of their experiences within the Community (“SSSC Counseling Program”). The SSSC Counseling Program remains available today and is an important mechanism from which IHRP claimants can seek additional support during the IHRP claims process. However, the IHRP Administrators will consider a claimant’s personalized healing needs, including future counseling support, when determining the amount of reparations to offer a claimant. Because the award will take future counseling needs into account, accepting the award will mean you are no longer eligible for the free services provided through the SSSC Counseling Program. The intention is to allow IHRP claimants to use the compensation received from the IHRP to fully control and direct their future counseling needs without needing to interface with SSSC in any way.
The IHRP is a confidential mediation program under New Mexico law. All of the information submitted by participants and by SSSC pursuant to the Program will be treated as confidential and will be used and disclosed only for the purposes set forth in Section D of the Protocol. This may include disclosure to the Administrators, Claimant Support Facilitator, Program Compliance Advisor, law enforcement, or to SSSC for limited purposes such as conducting an internal investigation if needed. As the Protocol explains, the Administrators will also need to request and consider relevant information and documentation from an SSSC liaison bound by confidentiality, and all efforts to substantiate claims and related facts will respect claimant confidentiality to the greatest degree possible under the circumstances. The SSSC Board of Trustees and board members of SSSC’s affiliated entities will not have access to the identity of claimants or to any personal claimant information.
To further protect the privacy of individuals who participate in the Program, all personal information provided by participants during this process will be destroyed one year after the conclusion of the Program, except to the extent otherwise required by law.
Please note that, in the event a claimant who accepts a compensation payment later makes a claim or demand that violates a signed Release, the Protocol authorizes SSSC to use or disclose a participant’s otherwise confidential information to the extent necessary to respond to or defend against that claim or demand.
Before, during, and after the Program, participants may choose to share, publicly or privately, information regarding their experiences of harm and any other facts or details about their claim, other than the amount of reparations received. The Release will provide that the amount of reparations accepted by the claimant shall remain confidential, except if the claimant chooses to share the amount with immediate family members or necessary professionals, such as accountants or tax advisors.
No. The IHRP is just one facet of the Compassionate Reconciliation Project, which will continue in its efforts to heal the community. Section E of the IHRP Protocol addresses other, nonmonetary elements of community healing efforts that will be broadly available and will occur in addition to the reparations aspect of the IHRP. In addition, the counseling program implemented by SSSC will remain available to individuals who either are not eligible for or do not accept an award through the IHRP, and the work of the Compassionate Reconciliation Project will continue to give voice to all aspects of the community as we move forward together.
The IHRP is intended to provide monetary reparations for limited types of harm, but it is not the only healing mechanism available to the community. SSSC encourages all individuals struggling with the reports of harm or their own experiences within the community to inquire with the Office of Ethics and Professional Standards about the free counseling services available to them.3 SSSC also encourages community members to participate in the community healing initiatives discussed in Section E of the IHRP Protocol.
3 To enroll or receive more information about the SSSC Counseling Program, please contact email@example.com.
Once the Program has commenced, further information will be provided about how to submit additional questions by e-mail or phone directly to the IHRP. In addition, these Frequently Asked Questions will continue to be updated as needed.