Parsis in Kolkata have cause for cheer. The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a special leave petition (SLP) moved by The Assam Company
Ltd against two charitable trusts run by the community. Calcutta High Court will now hear the matter and decide whether the company should vacate an office adjacent to Olpadvala Memorial Hall on 52, Chowringhee Road, and compensate the trusts.
The premises in question is the property of Calcutta Zoroastrian Community’s Religious and Charity Fund and Olpadvala Memorial Trust. These organizations provide financial support to poor Parsis in the city. To raise funds, the trusts let out their property.
Through a deed dating back to April 17, 1984, the trusts leased out a part of their property to The Assam Company Ltd. The lease was for 21 years (with effect from February 1, 1980). According to the counsel for the trusts, the terms and conditions stated that the lessee would have to vacate the premises and hand over possession of the property on expiry of the lease. The lease expired in 2001, but the company continued to operate from the premises.
On December 4, 2006, the trusts issued a notice to the company, terminating the tenancy and giving it 15 days to vacate the premises. The notice was received on December 7. The notice period expired on December 23 and the trustees than moved the HC, claiming a compensation of Rs 30,000 per day from December 24 for alleged "wrongful use and occupation".
The lawyers said the company was obliged to pay taxes and other charges to KMC to the tune of Rs 17,17,424. As it did not do so, the trusts had to pay the sum. They prayed that the company be directed to pay back this sum to the trusts.
The company contended that the matter was not under the jurisdiction of the high court. Justice Nadira Patherya directed the trusts to move the city civil court. Instead of doing so, the trusts preferred an appeal before the division bench of Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghosh and Justice I P Mukherji. The bench struck down the earlier order and admitted the matter. The Assam Company Ltd then moved an SLP.
The trusts were represented in the SC by counsel Soli Sorabjee and Phiroze Edulji.
Original article here.