Charity Commissioner can’t deny info in age of RTI

By Nauzer Bharucha, TNN

In the age of the Right to Information Act, the charity commissioner could not refuse to furnish documents under the cover of the

Official Secrets Act, said the Bombay Parsi Punchayat (BPP) on Saturday. Charity commissioner (CC) M K Choure was hearing an application by the BPP, which opposed his decision not to supply the charitable trust a copy of a preliminary inquiry report ordered by him to look into the BPP’s accounts.

On the basis of this inquiry report, Choure had ordered a special audit of the BPP’s accounts and directed the trust to immediately shell out a fee of Rs 1.2 crore to an auditor appointed by him. When the BPP refused, Choure warned that he would suspend the entire board comprising the seven trustees.

During the hearing in the CC’s office on Saturday, BPP advocate Percy Gandhy quoted a Supreme Court judgment, stating that a party against whom a special audit was ordered, had to be given an opportunity to be heard and provided with all material.

The embattled BPP, which looks after the welfare of Parsis, is defending charges levelled against it by Percy Patel of Alert Zoroastrians’ Association, who alleged various malpractices in the trust.

Gandhy told the CC that his order directing the BPP to pay Rs 1.2 crore for a special audit was itself bad because it was passed ex-parte "without hearing us or giving reasons for such an order”.

"In one case, the Supreme Court had overturned a ruling which sought to levy a fee of just Rs 1.5 lakh on a party for a special audit. The BPP likewise is a charitable trust and its funds are meant for the community’s poor. Such a large amount cannot be diverted to pay the fees for a special audit,” he said.

As against the fee of Rs 1.2 crore that the CC has directed the BPP to pay for auditing its accounts between 1998 and 2008, the punchayat said its own auditor, Kalyaniwalla & Mistry, charged just Rs 90,000 a year. The BPP counsel also questioned the time-frame of the special audit ordered by the CC, and protested that even under the tax law, investigations were for a seven-year period. "So, on what basis had the CC ordered a special audit for 11 years,” he asked.

The CC is likely to deliver a final order on October 8.

  • Firoze Hirjikaka

    This is one more example of the establishment cocking a snook at Parsi sensibilities.The sheer effrontery of the Charity Commissioner invoking the Official Secrets Act in a case where it clearly not tenable, defies logic. This is after he has tried to impose a totally disproportionate fee for an unnecessary 11 year audit of the BPP’s finances. Yet the CC is sticking to his guns. Perhaps he is aware of the ground reality that, because of their miniscule numbers, Parsis have ceased to matter, either as a vote bank or a source of election funding. The truth is that we Parsis will have to fight our own battles. We can expect no help from any outside quarter; and certainly not from the government.

  • Phiroz.

    LAST YEAR OCTOBER PROVED TO BE A FLOP SHOW. LET US SEE WHAT THIS OCTOBER HAS IN STORE FOR THE COMMUNITY IN MUMBAI.

  • upendra

    BPP is right, CC attitude are rude. They are dadagiri just like Police, and other political parties here.
    We should inform the PM, Congress Medam about these rude towards Parsis trust.
    These people want to grab the trust money byor crook.

  • rustom jamasji

    On ‘The truth is that we Parsis will have to fight our own battles. We can expect no help from any outside quarter; and certainly not from the government.’.

    Well everyone has to fight their own battles and the Govt will take a serious note of misuse of certain laws pertaining to security of the Country..

    Yet Mr Choure etc are only catalysts…Zoroastrians should tackle those from within who thirst to blackmail the community, play dirty politics so that the newly democratically elected trustees cannot function and are embroiled in such hassles.

    Infact Percy Patel n his cronies should be asked why they did not ask for such when the ex trustees were in power and also how do they expect the new trustees to be punished with hassles for the paperwork of those ex trustees, AZA sides with!!!

    So AZA sides with people they want an audit against but want to embroil the new trustees,they backmail the commmunity with regards to property, doongerwaadi etc whlst doing nothing against thse who ave encroached on properties meant to promote Zoroastriansism amongst zoroasrians..
    This also brings to light one of the trustees who moves around in such circles claiming to be ignorant when he suits him like on a tv show..and support for the likes of AZA

    Perhaps the people who lost the elections, the puppeteers who wanted the ones who lost–to be elected want to show that the new trustees did not do much when their terms matures…AZA, the other pseudo orgabisations and the pupeteers backstage are thinking that the zoroastrians would play into their hands without pondering how and why the trustees hands were tied because of AZA and its masters

    Everyone knows that the misdeeds of such organisations and its vielled masters spread chaos within te community…yet they get their suport also from those who inncocently side with them as sometimes personal likes(anti dokhmenshini-intermarriage, gatha alone cult–rubbishing the avesta etc..–etc)are taken advantage of by such groups..

  • Behram Dhabhar

    I agree with Firoze Hirjikaka. Here the unfortunate part is some of our own community members are pushing the CC to take this step.

    Phiroze,

    Last October was triumph of good over evil. This October also it will be the same.

    Cheers.