Ex-CJI backs out of case against ‘rebel’ Parsi priests

Rejection of request to mediate is a blow to the community which has already spent over Rs 3 crore in litigation

Former chief justice of India, Sarosh Kapadia, has rejected a request to mediate in the `renegade’ Parsi priests issue.

Article by Jyoti Shelar | Mumbai Mirror

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The refusal comes as a blow to the community, as the case will now be fought in court, resulting in considerable expenditure from community funds. The Bombay Parsi Punchayet has already spent over Rs 3 crore in litigation over the past three years, and additional expense will only invite further ire from community members.

“Former CJI Kapadia wrote to us last week saying he would not be taking up mediation. The case will most likely be fought in court, unless the court suggests another name for mediation,“ said BPP chairman Dinshaw Mehta. “The court is keen for the matter to be resolved within the community, but several attempts have failed,“ he added.

The `renegade’ priests issue dates back to 2009 when the BPP banned two priests — Framroze Mirza and Khushroo Madon — from performing any rituals in Doongerwadi and two BPP-controlled fire temples, after they were found to have performed religious ceremonies for Parsis who chose to be cremated and navjote ceremonies for kids with non-Parsi fathers.

Eminent Parsis Jamsheed Kanga and Homi Khushrokhan had challenged the ban on behalf of the two priests.

While High Court quashed the ban in 2011, BPP challenged the decision in Supreme Court, which appointed a mediator to settle the dispute amicably. However, the mediation attempt failed on April 16 after a majority of the seven BPP trustees opted against it. Early this month, SC then suggested the name of ex-CJI Kapadia for mediation and his approval was awaited. A hearing had been scheduled for the mediator to meet the concerned parties on Monday, but since Kapadia refused the next date for hearing of the case will be set when the court reopens after vacation.

“We have already spent a lot of money on this case. Fighting it further in courts will mean further wastage of community funds,“ said Mehta, who was among the minority that voted for mediation. “I hope the court gives the matter one more chance and suggests another name for mediation,“ he added.

With the best of lawyers on BPP’s side, merely getting dates for hearings in the last two months have cost them Rs 30 lakh. The overall expenditure has crossed Rs 3 crore, which many feel could have been used for betterment of the community’s poor.