In a reprieve for Bombay Parsi Punchayat chairman Dinshaw Mehta, the charity commissioner’s office recently dismissed a complaint seeking
his removal for alleged irregularities and nepotism in allotment of flats. Joint charity commissioner N V Deshmukh ruled that there was no evidence to take action against Mehta.
"The application falls short of showing any act individually done by Mehta, which could be termed either as neglect in duty or malfeasance or misfeasance or breach of trust of misappropriation or improper dealing with the trust property,” said Deshmukh, adding, "There is no material to frame charges.
Mehta said the complaints were baseless. "Justice has been done and we are vindicated,” said Mehta. "This was an unnecessary controversy where policy differences between the then trustees were used to make allegations.”
The 350-year-old Punchayat is the apex body for the 45,000 strong Parsi-Irani Zoroastrian community in the city. One of the oldest trusts, it is also one of the richest and biggest landlords in Mumbai. The trust owns several acres of land and buildings in prime localities in the city, including the sprawling Towers of Silence property at Malabar Hill. According to the charity commissioner, the properties of the trust are currently valued at Rs 1,000 crore.
Mehta’s troubles started in 2006, when some members of the community lodged a complaint against him and sought his removal as trustee. They levelled three major allegations against Mehta. The first related to a purchase of a property in Andheri, which they claimed caused a loss of Rs 3 crore to the trust. Secondly, they alleged that he entered into an "illegal” agreement with a private builder to develop a trust property. And, the last concerned the allotment of the trust’s flats to relatives of one of Mehta’s friends.
The charity commissioner said there was no evidence submitted to back the claim of causing loss to the trust. With regard to the second allegation, too, the commissioner held that the agreement with the builder was not acted upon and the property was still with the trust. The allegations about allotment of flats also met a similar fate, with the joint charity commissioner ruling that there was no evidence, except for the resignation letters of fellow trustees, which were subsequently withdrawn.
"Mere fact that the persons who received the benefits were near relatives of Mehta’s friend cannot be a ground to frame a charge against him,” said the commissioner, pointing out that the allotments were made jointly by the trust and not Mehta alone.
Original article here.