Appointment of new trustees at Bombay Parsi Punchayet will end the charity commissioner’s stay on its properties
The Parsi community voted on Sunday to choose new trustees and chairman for the 350-year old Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP), which had been hit by infighting and allegations of embezzlement.
Article by Jyoti Shelar
The election of new trustees will end a nearly two-year-old freeze by the charity commissioner on the organisation’s properties worth more than Rs 200 crore.
The stay was imposed in December 2013 following allegations that the organisation’s chairman had pocketed part of the proceeds from the sale of a BPP commercial property in Fort. The Mumbai police’s Economic Offences Wing investigated the claims and cleared the chairman of wrongdoing. The stay prevented the BPP from renting out or transferring any of its properties to community members or using the revenue resulting from such deals. The order affected 140 vacant flats in Mumbai’s Parsi baugs that helped the BPP earn more than Rs 1 crore annually. A potential revenue of nearly Rs 90 crore was held up as the BPP could not sell flats in a Navsari building and a residential tower in Godrej Baug, Malabar Hill.
Afund of Rs 120 crore was frozen after a disagreement between former trustees over whether it belonged to the BPP or Nusli Wadia-helmed Wadia Committee of Management, which maintains Parsi colonies Nowroz Baug list of 23 candidates. Of the 29,000 registered voters, 8,000 cast their ballot.At the time of going to print, the votes were still being counted.
“I hope that the new trustees concentrate on the issues of housing and the dwindling numbers of the community,“ said Dr Fali Poncha, a neurologist attached to Jaslok Hospital, who voted at a booth in Cusrow Baug.“The trustees should not waste money on petty issues.“
Another voter, 75-year-old Gool Kotwal, said that the new trustees should consider charging a smaller fee from community members who transfer properties to their loved ones.“Currently, BPP charges a huge sum when a flat is transferred to the legal heir,“ Kotwal said.
She has voted in every community election since 2007. “It was interesting this time as electronic voting machines were introduced,“ she said.
DADRAWALA WINS MOST VOTES
Philanthropist Noshir Dadrawala won the most votes followed by businessman Kersi Randheria, who owns the community newspaper Parsi Times, and chartered accountant Zarir Bathena. Yazdi Desai was reelected as a trustee and is likely to be named the chairman because of seniority.Viraf Mehta, son of outgoing chairman Dinshaw Mehta, came fifth.