By Naresh Kamath / HT
MUMBAI: On the heels of the Charily Commissioner issuing n show-cause notice to the trustees of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) the stale’s law department has intervened and sought a detailed report in the matter.
The Charity Commissioner had served notice on the trustees asking them why they should not be sacked for blocking a probe into alleged financial irregularities.
It now turns out that on September 9, a day after the notice was issued to the trustees, the Law and Judiciary Department sent a letter to the Commissioner seeking details. "Minister of State (Law and Judiciary) has directed that the [|information] should be sent immediately. As such a detailed report should be sent." said the letter.
When contacted, Hasan Mushrif, Minister of state, Law and Judiciary, said he was busy campaigning in Kolhapur. "I will check the facts and let you know when I am in Mumbai."
The law department’s move was in response to the plea made by the BPP seeking relief from the fees of Rs l.2 crore to be paid to the auditors Nimesh Mehta and Associates who will be conducting a ‘Special Audit’ of the Punchayet’s transactions for the last ten years.
“Our representations to the Charity Commissioner expressing inability to pay such an exorbitant amount have fallen on deaf ears. I Hence we asked for the minister to intervene.” DINSHAW MEHTA. chairman. BPP
Talking to Hindus/an Times. Dinshaw Mehta, chairman. Parsi Punchayet said the trust had made representations to all the authorities to relax the amount.
He said the amount should be either recovered from the petitioner (Percy Patel) or the previous trustees whose term ended last year.
"Except me all the trustee* are new and it is unfair to target them" said Mehta.
However, petitioner Patel. who sought the special audit, said: The trustees should adopt transparency in their dealings instead of asking for such interventions."
The Charity commissioner has given an order only after we produced documentary evidence showing large scale irregularities" said Patel.
Petitioner Percy Patel. member of the Alert Zoroastrian Association, asked for a ‘special audit’ after he complained of large-scale irregularities in the daily functioning of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet.
Hindustan Times presents both sides of the story.
Petitioner: Irregularities in allotting houses. Instead of the poor, the Punchayet builds homes for the rich.
Defence: We are forced lo build for the rich since we use this money to cross subsidize to build for the poor. We have plans to build 3.500 houses for poor Par sis. Petitioner: Rich Parsis are being offered subsidized houses instead ol being charged at market rate.
Defence: We have to sell our houses only to Parsis hence we cannot get the market rate.
Petitioner: The contract for the hoarding at Malabar Hill was offered to a contractor for Rs 30 lakh annually when the market rate was Rs 3 crore.
Defence: It is an absolute tie and we have cancelled the contract. We are still ready to give the contract if anyone can off er us Rs 3 crore.
Petitioner. Poor Parsis are not given houses in colonies like Cusrow Baug at Colaba Rustom Baug at Byculla and Kheraghat Colony at Hughes Road.
Defence: The flats in these colonies cost crores of rupees, which the poor cannot afford. So. we buy houses costing less than Rs 25 lakh from Ihe tenants and allot them to the poor for free.[Hat tip: Mickie Sorabjee]