Police Orders Fresh probe into cash at Bombay Parsi Punchayet office

In May, cops submitted a report concluding investigations. Community activists, four trustees smelt a rat.

Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria has ordered a re-investigation in the case of Rs 21 lakh unaccounted cash found in the office of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP). The case was closed by the MRA Marg police last month, allowing BPP trustees to open the sealed cupboard. With the fresh order, the case will now be looked at with a new perspective.

Article by Jyoti Shelar | Mumbai Mirror

10-03The cash was found in September last year, when the BPP trustees opened the cupboards of chief executive officer Mehli Colah, who died in December 2013. Rs 20 lakh was found in a plastic bag in two bundles of Rs 15 lakh and Rs 5 lakh each; the remaining money and jewellery was found in separate drawers in Colah’s office. A few trustees had linked the unaccounted cash to the controversial sale of tenancy of Dady House in Fort. The Punchayet chairman, Dinshaw Mehta, had claimed that Rs 45 lakh was paid while two of the six trustees alleged that the sale was fixed at Rs 65 lakh. Incidentally, the discrepant amount was exactly of Rs 20 lakh.

“Yes, I have ordered a fresh investigation,” Maria told Mirror on Sunday, adding that the fresh probe will be carried out by a DCP who will submit a detailed report to him.

Last month, the MRA police had submitted an 11-page report concluding the investigations. They allowed the BPP to open the sealed cupboard and use the cash in the organisation’s activities. In the report, Inspector Madhav More said: “The unaccounted cash could be donations obtained by BPP or some other transactions related to the BPP.” Colah was suffering from cancer and undergoing chemotherapy due to which he may have missed entering the money into the account sheet, Inspector More had added.

However, community activists and four trustees smelt a rat. “Police overlooked certain issues while investigating the case,” said community activist Arzan Ghadially. “How can I believe the authenticity of police report at a time when the Anti Corruption Bureau has recorded majority cases of corruption against the police?”

The trustees wrote to Maria, building up pressure to re-open the case. “The police investigation has been very shoddy and merely based on statements made by BPP staff members, trustees and other persons without proper investigations,” the letter signed by trustees Yazdi Desai, Khojestee Mistree, Jimmy Mistry and Arnavaz Mistry said. They further added that BPP is a trust under the Bombay Public Trusts Act, where no amount can be received without issuing a proper receipt. “Receiving such a huge amount in cash either through donations, or some cash transaction, or through sale proceeds of belongings of some Parsi deceased, without issuing receipt or knowledge of the trustees, is illegal. All BPP staff members including Mr Colah were aware about this rule,” said a trustee adding that it is impossible that not even a single receipt has been issued in this case.