BPP no to charity chief’s demand of Rs 1.2 crore fee

By Nauzar Bharucha / TNN

Charity Commissioner (CC) M K Choure, who invoked the Official Secrets Act to deny information to the Bombay Parsi Punchayat (BPP), on Tuesday agreed to give a hearing to the trustees on September 29.

The BPP, which looks after the welfare of Parsis and is the city’s largest private landlord, had filed an application before the CC, challenging his earlier order to pay up Rs 1.2 crore for a special audit or face suspension. The trustees contended that Choure had issued them a show-cause notice even without hearing their application.

As reported by TOI in its Monday edition, Choure took cover under the Officials Secrets Act to deny a copy of his preliminary inquiry report against the BPP when the trustees asked for it. The CC had ordered this inquiry following a complaint lodged last year by a member of the Alert Zoroastrian Association, Percy Patel, who alleged malpractices in the punchayat.

Choure was expected to pass orders to suspend the seven trustees on Tuesday after they refused to pay this fee; the trustees contended that the BPP was a charitable organisation and such funds were largely meant for welfare of poor Parsis. The CC, however, stated that the BPP trustees were trying to obfuscate the special audit and were not cooperating with the demands made by his office.

During the hearing on Tuesday, BPP advocate Percy Gandhi submitted that the CC could not decide the case without hearing their side. The BPP submitted that Choure did not take cognisance of its application of August 17, challenging his order to immediately shell out Rs 1.2 crore as fee to M/s Nimesh Mehta & Associates for the special audit of the BPP’s accounts between 1998 and 2008. The trustees objected to this and pointed out that this worked out to Rs 11 lakh per annum, the audit fees charged by the BPP’s own auditor, M/s Kalyaniwalla & Mistry, charged just Rs 90,000 a year including taxes and out-of-pocket expenses.

"If the CC has found any irregularities in his preliminary report, then he should show it to us before he orders a special audit and directs the BPP to pay Rs 1.2 crore as fees,” Gandhi submitted. He argued that according to Supreme Court judgements, the trustees had every right to know factually as to what the CC’s preliminary investigations done in December 2008, had unearthed.

"All allegations could be satisfactorily dealth with and suitable explanations can be given to the CC, but he must give a report of the findings. The present trustees were elected just 10 months ago, and therefore did not even know about any of the alleged wrong doings of the previous board,” argued Gandhi.

The BPP counsel also questioned the time-frame of the special audit ordered by the CC and protested that even under tax law, the investigations are for a seven year period. "So, on what basis had the CC ordered a special audit for 11 years?” he asked.

In its application to the CC on August 17, the BPP argued that in spite of the Right To Information Act, which paved the way for transparency and accountability in governance, the CC had made an attempt to rely upon the Official Secrets Act. "Once Right To Information Act is made applicable, there remains hardly any scope to say that the Official Secrets Act of 1923 will be applicable to the present case,” said the application.

The punchayat is expected to move the Bombay high court soon.

  • Dilshad Patel

    Seems like Percy Patel, Noshir Dadrawala and Kersi Randeria have been successful in not letting the BPP Trustees function in peace.

    As they had mentioned in the beggining of 2009 that “we will not let the newly voted Trustees function and prove them failures, their tenure of 7 years as BPP Trustees will be a complete failure”

    With the new audit issue which has come up the housing issue has been completely sidelined, there is a huge list of parsi couples hoping to get an accomodation but who cares the ones who have to fight, fight their cases and return to their houses praparing the next strategy how to let down the opposition party.

    I would like to inform Percy Patel, Kersi Randeria and the so called PHILANTHROPHIST Noshir Dadarawala that if you deprive people of their basic needs than you have a huge payback, probably twice as big.

  • No body in corporate world or a Trust is justified in reversing decisions taken by their predecessors. At best a policy adopted by earlier Board can be amended/ chanked prospectively and NEVER retrospectively. The end result for hasty cancellation of Allotment of flats is this unsavoury stalemate.

  • Behram Dhabhar

    Agree with Dilshad Patel. Their defeat at the recently held elctions has really hurt them, not once but twice. The community has spoken and its voice should be respected whether they can swallow it or not.

    The only way out of this is for the BPP trustees to call a Samast Anjuman meeting and expose these three thugs in public. Let the community members castigate the AZA trio once and for all.

  • Are you trying to imply that opposition in a democracy should sit quietly with folded hands and allow those in government do whatever they like?
    What the community is undergoing is due to gross abuse of money power by those who got elected as Trustees.The source of finance for lavish dinners and dance bands need to be probed.

  • Delnavaz

    “Are you trying to imply that opposition in a democracy should sit quietly with folded hands and allow those in government do whatever they like?”…………in the Percy Patel case, the opposition is doing whatever it can to ensure that they make a maximum nuisance of themselves.
    cheers

  • Behram Dhabhar

    Why dont Percy Patel and Kersi Randeria spend from their own pockets if they want to get the audit done ? After all it is only they who want to “expose” the trustees. These present trustees have nothing to do what happened 10 years ago, and its their dog in the manger attitude that irks the community.

  • Thats exactly what those who claim to preserve and protect did when they were not in saddle.-Maximum nuisance. Can you justify preventing construction of a buliding in Dadsysett Atashbehram Compound for Parsees.
    Can you justify ‘representatives’ of places like Dumas, Khergam & Elav on Federation Board. What is Parsee population of these places and did the Parsees of those places appoint these representatives? Have these represenatatives ever been residents of Dumas, Khergam, Elav?
    This is not to justify the actions of AZA coterie but to point out that one reaps what they sow. Comcerned persons are being paid in their own coin.

  • Anti -Dhongidox.

    I am no admirer of either AZA or WAPIZ and look at events as they unfold,as a DRAMA inflicted by the Community on itself by electing such persons who have gone back on their Election promise to declare their assets if elected. That reflects on the character of the concerned individual.
    Secondly, BPP is a Charitable Trust and it has no business to be in the activity of Construction for Super Rich. Super Rich do not deserve subsidies from BPP and we know who ALL reside in the ownership building near Khareghat Colony constructed by BPP.
    If we use Rustum Jamas’s terminology is all TAKE TAKE by the Trustees for their “Chamchas” and no giving back.
    BPP owned property is no body’s father’s property. It is property bequeathed by the Donors for the Community at large and not for a coterie.
    Like politicians, why was there so much zest for becoming Trustees? One can serve the community without being Trustees if selflessness was the motto.
    Lastly, if Audit does take place, it may reveal revenue leakages, which amounts if recovered can not only cover the Cost of Audit but may even help finance Aviary experiment.
    Moreover the existing Trustees should note that they are elected to manage Trust Properties and not dabble in religious affairs.

  • Mr. Dhabhar,
    In a way you are correct. Those who demand Audit should pay for the Audit Fees but by this analogy, Trustees who commence litigation against a tenant would become liable to pay Lawyer’s Fees from their own pockets.Ponder about it.

  • Navroz

    I think its time to kick those convertist AZA people out of our community for trying to disturb such a great organization such as BPP..

  • True Orthodox Zoroastrian.

    Navroz,

    Since when is ex-communication from the Community permitted in our Community.?Let us await outcome of the case with Charity Commissioner.
    As for B.P.P., it has never been ‘great’ and has always been in the limelight of the Press for all the wrong reasons.

  • rustom jamasji

    On a historical/academical note excommunication was followed in Zoroastrian lands with the claping of hands by the entire town/city’s population whilst the person excommunicated was shown the door.

    Ofcourse AZA’S demanding and blackmailing the community on giving the houses to its chozen few,
    Then demanding a special audit when the new trustees have taken over whilst sidelining with ex trustees??!!!!

    and lastly stopping so low that its aids people who cite national security law, demeaning the law itself , misusing it so as to again do something illegal by not accompanying the R.T.I shows Percy Patel and Kersi Randelia’s stand.

    Their thirst to get their own elected,get their own housed,to end dokhmenishini etc etc at whatever cost as long as it is on zoroastrianism..may in their groups
    eyes seem as alerting and reviving Zoroastrianism!!
    Many such pseudo groups are formed..portraying an interest in Zoroastrianism, showing Orthodoxy at times and then jumping sides…working as different organiatons to portray public support.

    Perhaps the Sasanians era that pours light on such politics albeit from the Byzantines and Romans …now its from within and better vielled than the empires that fought to end Zoroastrianism

  • Persons like Delnavaz should better read MUMBAI MIRROR dated 8th Oct 2009 PAGE 10 before condemning persons. It is easy to write any thing on the blog with preconceived notions. That there can be no smoke without fire and thats exactly what is established by the “Withdrawal of Application” for exchange of plots on the ground of renegotiating the matter.
    If this action of Dalal was a’nuisance’ as termed by Delnavaz, why BPP found it belatedly necessary to renegotiate?

  • “Dog in the manger attitude” Whose one may ask.
    “Excommunicate” whom?.
    Probably SAMAST ANJUMAN MEETING will have to be called to expel those who want to play a fast one on the Commuinity.
    Reading to-day’s MUMBAI MIRROR gives credence to the feeling that BPP is any thing but a GREAT ORGANIZATION as Navroz believes.The Community will come to know as to who will be getting EXPOSED in due course but to-days article in MM reads “Parsi Punchayet backtracks……” and it is not AZA trio who get credit but another Parsee gentleman
    by name H Dalal.

  • Ronny

    Dear Dilshad,

    It is no less.
    Whichever party comes in won’t let other one to function.
    The worst part is that now a days it has become more obvious to non-Parsis also and is done at larger rate.
    I think the candidates should think about BPP first then decide to settle their political scores because at the end of day BPP and it’s funds suffer and no one.
    Warm Regards,
    Ronny

  • Ronny

    The Donations to BPP have gone down or stopped lately as our Community Members know to take more than give.
    Besides, we all know that rate of Interest is diminishing fast. Any Trust must utilise it’s interest and not touch Corpus. That’s the rule.
    Constructing ownership flats for rich and utilising the money received from them for constructions of free flats for middle class Parsis is best way.