Four Trustees of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) Arnavaz Mistry, Khojeste Mistree, Jimmy Mistry and Yazdi Desai filed a complaint with the Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Mumbai against BPP Chairman Dinshaw Mehta on November 13, alleging financial misappropriation in the transfer of tenancy rights regarding office premises owned by the BPP at Dady House, Bora Bazar Street, Fort.
Published in the
Sunday November 17, 2013
The complaint alleges that the BPP was to receive Rs. 65 lakhs for the transfer and while Rs. 20 lakh was received by cheque, the rest was received in cash and reportedly handed over to the Chairman. When the other Trustees questioned him and pressure was brought to bear, further cheques for Rs. 25 lakhs belatedly appeared.
As the Jam-e-Jamshed was going to press on Saturday morning, Dinshaw Mehta confirmed that a Defamation Notice laiming damages of Rs. 50 crore has been sent by his lawyers to Anahita and Yazdi Desai and Khojeste Mistree. Mehta reckons, "They’re the main people behind filing the police complaint against me – not Arnavaz and Jimmy."
Jimmy Mistry retorts: "It defies logic that when there’s a serious charge against you for alleged embezzlement, where is the question of defamation? In no court of law can this defamation charge hold as then every accused person will file for defamation. He’s rubbishing our allegations with his typical bravado. But we are serious."
Khojeste Mistree adds, "Let him file defamation charges. More skeletons will fall out. It will get messier. It pains me but we had no alternative but to go to the police and complain."
Distressed at what they perceive as grave financial irregularities in the BPP and concerned that things cannot continue this way the four Trustees filed a complaint with the Economic Offences Wing of the Crime Branch Mumbai, requesting a thorough investigation.
Dinshaw Mehta, speaking to the Jam-e-Jamshed categorically states: "This is a frame-up to get me to resign. They’re basing their allegations on hearsay that cash was given. Cheques for the entire amount of Rs. 45 lakh have come – Rs. 65 lakhs is a false figure. Why don’t they call the outgoing and incoming tenants and ask them? But they’re not interested in the facts. They just want to blackmail me into resigning."
Stressing that there was no question of him resigning, Mehta added: "Let the police do a fair investigation."
Mehta continues, "The truth will come out. How can they condemn and hang me before the truth is known? There’s no provision requiring me to resign just because four Trustees feel so. Basically Khojeste and Yazdi want to settle personal scores with me after Ana- hita’s defeat in the last election. They have coerced Jimmy and Arnavaz. Jimmy hardly comes to the meetings and doesn’t know much about what’s happening in the BPP and Arnavaz got scared because they said either you join us as a complainant or we will make you a co-accused. The other two Trustees, Arma- ity Tirandaz and Munchi Cama, said show us proof of guilt and pulled out when they didn’t find any. But Jimmy and Arnavaz have succumbed to their pressure."
JIMMY MISTRY, when interviewed, retaliated: "With such serious charges leveled against him, if he says this is merely a conspiracy against him then it’s a joke! He’s saying this to misdirect people. The four of us who’ve filed the complaint spent days discussing it in detail. None of us is so naive as to get pulled into a so-called ‘conspiracy’ against him – some of us even had advisors for further guidance. We’re not doodh peeta bachhas to get coerced into anything."
Mistry asserts that there are serious issues at stake: "For two years I’ve been saying we should have a public auction for all BPP properties and take amounts for transfer of tenancy by cheque and pay income tax. Every time you suggest something at the Board Meeting it becomes a fight because one man wants to have things his way. Let me assure you I spend quality time at the BPP and am fully involved in all important decisions."
Jimmy Mistry adds: "We need to delegate and have committees – legal, finance, technical, religious and so on. BPP Trustees cannot try to do everything on their own. Besides, there’s no team work at the BPP. Things are 100 percent controlled by one man. We’re in a similar situation to the earlier Board when majority of the Trustees had resigned because of him. Men like Burjor Antia, Dadi Engineer, Minoo Shroff and others of that stature – we’re nothing compared to them. Doesn’t it tell you something when majority Trustees of two successive BPP Boards are willing to give up Trusteeship, rather than work with him? Doesn’t this speak volumes to the community? People need to think. Why are four sitting BPP Trustees willing to risk taking the community to the police right now unless there are very serious issues at stake?"
Mistry asserts there’s more trouble: "Henceforth, it will not be work as usual at the BPP. We’re moving the Charity Commissioner’s office. If the majority Trustees decide that this
Board cannot conduct any business till the investigation is over then you cannot conduct business. Dinshaw always rubbishes the voice the voice of the majority and believes he can do his own thing. But enough is enough. Many top people are calling me and counseling me to back out and not take him on. But this isn’t a personal fight. I’m ready to lose my Trusteeship but we cannot indulge in dishonesty. In future no deal "will be done at the BPP like this. We will fight for transparency and doing things correctly."
What impact will this have on the World Congress? Mistry says, "The less said about the World Congress the better. I’ve been virtually eliminated from the meetings. A lot of worthy speakers have dropped out. This Congress is like a mama masi no gher no ghamb- har. This is not how the London and Dubai Congresses were.conducted."
Khojeste Mistree agrees, "A huge question mark hangs over the Congress. I wouldn’t be surprised if top-ranking dignitaries pull out after hearing about the mess the BPP’s in and the gravity of the charges we’re pressing."
Mistree hastens to add: "We’re not fighting this for political one upmanship as has been alleged. We’re fighting this on principle. Financial impropriety was observed and as Trustees we could not sit back and allow this to happen. We must have a tracking mechanism and bring transparency into housing. It pains me to have taken this action of going to the police but what was the alternative? Allowing’Dinshaw to carry on with his shenanigans? There’s no question of vendetta against him but we are fighting for good governance."