The crisis in the over 300-year-old Bombay Parsi Punchayat (BPP) intensified over the weekend with a trustee planning to go on a hunger strike from Monday morning.
Article by Nauzer Bharucha | TNN
Noshir Dadrawala, who resigned last week, protesting against the majority trustees’ decision to postpone the BPP elections to October 2022, said, “This is a serious attempt on my part to ensure good governance through peaceful, non-violent means.”
“I will be sitting at the BPP office (DN Rd in Fort) and sleeping there at night till the time this illegal resolution is revoked,” he said in a statement.
While many lauded Dadrawala for taking a principled stand against the tyranny of the majority trustees, others accused him of staging a pointless drama.
A community senior, who did not wish to be identified, said, “Our aim should be to bring this sorry state of affairs to the notice of the charity commissioner, who should then issue a notice to the trustees to either perform or perish.”
“But isn’t staying and sleeping overnight at the BPP office itself illegal?,” quipped another, one among the flurry of messages on social media. “He will tear up his resignation letter and return, saying he had to heed the voice of his legions of supporters who threatened to commit suicide if he didn’t,” said another, tongue-in-cheek.
But Dadrawala was adamant about his proposed fast. In one of his several statements on Sunday, he said, “In my 60 years, I have never fasted. I love my food and it shows on my face. But I realise I love truth and the right path even more. Food can wait. Not eating may hurt. But it will not kill me.”
He further added, “Those who think I can’t do it, don’t know me well enough. Over the years, I have defied both death and doctors and made my mind prevail over matter.”
“You are welcome to have some of your friends or doctors sit along with me 24/7 to ascertain that there will be no cheating or snacking on the sly at all,” said Dadrawala.
His main grouse is that the “illegal resolution” passed by the BPP chairman and trustee Viraf Mehta is in violation of a Bombay high court order. “It is a fit case for a contempt petition. By not filling the two vacancies for another 12 months is in violation of the high court framed scheme of elections,” he added.
Trustee Viraf Mehta, countered Dadrawala, stating that the BPP board passed a resolution by majority to move for an amendment of the scheme to reduce the term of a trustee from seven years to five years. “It was also recommended to hold an election for five seats in October 2022 after following due process as required,” he said in a statement, published in a community newsletter.
Mehta contended that the BPP currently has outstanding payments of Rs 11 crore and holding elections to fill up two seats now would entail a cost of Rs 40 lakh. He further said that the standard operating procedures (SOPs) in regard to elections and electioneering have not been relaxed since August 2021.
“Hence, elections could not be announced till date. Now, given we would have two elections within ten months of each other, it was the right view to not only save Rs 40 lakh for the BPP but move for amendment of the scheme. Otherwise, the community will not have enough time to amend the scheme even for the October 2022 elections,” he said.