The government could consider exempting the Parsi community from the ‘two-child norm’, the Bombay high court suggested on Wednesday. Hearing a matrimonial dispute case between a city-based Parsi couple, a division bench of Justices P B Majmudar and Anoop Mohta was informed of incentives given to Parsi couples to have more children.
"Late marriages or no marriages are the cause for the decline in the population,” the judges remarked. Bombay Parsi Punchayat chairman Dinshaw Meh- ta told the court that the community has offered benefits to couples who have more children.
"For a second child, a couple is paid Rs 3,000 per month and for having a third child, the family is offered Rs 5,000 per month. This maintenance amount is paid till the child turns 18,” Mehta said. "Other benefits for education expenses are also provided,” he added.
At this the court remarked that the community seems to be going against the government’s ‘two-child norm’. "You are going against the government scheme where having a third child is a disqualification for many things, including a government job or standing for elections,” said Justice Majmudar, adding, "But this may be needed to arrest the decline in the Parsi population. The legislature could consider granting the community an exemption from the two- child norm.”
As per the 2001 census, the population of Parsis had declined to 69,000 from 1.20 lakh in 1941. According to demographic trends, it is estimated that the Parsi population in India may fall to 20,000 by 2020.
Mehta told the court that Parsi couples are provided flats in colonies around the city where rents are nominal.
"The object of the community enclaves is to ensure Parsis stay together and marry within the community,” said Mehta. "Parsis are in an enviable position (as far as flats in the city are concerned),” the judges said, and asked Mehta if rich Parsis were also staying in such enclaves. "Many have Mercedes and BMWs in Cusrow Baug in Colaba,” Mehta replied.
Earlier, hearing another matter, the court appreciated the enterprise and philanthropy of the community. "Other communities should learn from the Parsis,” Justice Majmudar said.