The Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the high court’s quashing of its ban. The Punchayet had banned two priests from performing religious ceremonies in the trust premises. The appeal was filed on Monday and is expected to come up for hearing on April 18.
On March 11, while deciding an appeal filed by former municipal commissioner Jamsheed Kanga and five other prominent Parsi-Zoroastrians, the Bombay high court said that the BPP’s trust deeds did not give them power to restrain the priests.
Priests Khushru Madon and Framroze Mirza were banned from the Towers of Silence in Malabar Hill and two BPP-managed fire temples because they had performed ‘irreligious’ ceremonies, including after-death prayers for Zoroastrians who were cremated.
The priests were also accused of conducting Navjote or initiation ceremonies for children of women married to men from other religions and conducting marriages where one partners was not a Parsi-Zoroastrian.
Quashing the ban, the high court said that the BPP’s trust deed of 1884 did not entitle it to ban priests from the Towers of Silence and fire temples. The trust was asked to withdraw the notice banning the priests.
BPP chairman Dinshaw Mehta said the appeal was filed after advice from the community’s high priests. “They have categorically said that we were right in banning the priests.”
Meanwhile, a group of community members have started an online petition urging the BPP not to file the appeal against the high court order. The petition signed by over 350 people said that instead of spending community money on expensive litigation, the trust should use the funds for education, housing and business loans. The group suggested that the BPP should treat the HC order as a settled matter. The petition said: “The trustees of the BPP should realise that they are the custodians of the funds and properties of the trust… This is a petition to show our dissent and also an earnest appeal to them to accept the high court verdict…”
Mehta justified the appeal saying that the community’s high priests supported the ban. “We will have to go by what the high priests have advised us. Those who have started the online petition are the same people who are supporting the banned priests,” said Mehta.