Dadar Parsi Colony to stay ‘ exclusive’

Residents of the landmark Dadar Parsi Colony, the largest Zoroastrian enclave in the world, have won a six-year-long legal battle to allow only members of this tiny community to live in this ‘reserved area’.

By Nauzer Bharucha | TNN

The city civil court has granted a permanent injunction restraining the builder from selling flats to anyone who is not a Parsi-Irani Zoroastrian.

“Monday’s court ruling is important for the community because it is necessary to protect our identity, customs and traditions which can be maintained by living together in an enclave. It must, however, be emphasised that the Parsi-only covenant is not directed against any community as such,’’ said Dinyar Panthaki, a Dadar resident, who had been pursuing the case. Of the 45,000 Zoroastrians in Mumbai, as many as 10,000 live in Dadar Parsi Colony alone.

The three plots—726, 727 and 688—in Dadar Parsi Colony have had a Parsi-only covenant since the time these buildings were constructed about 80 years ago for community members. All the three buildings were sold to the developer some years ago. Early this decade, the building on plot 727 was demolished and reconstructed by developer, Shubh Enterprises, under Development Control Rule 33/7, which pertains to theredevelopment of old cessed properties in the island city.

The builder wanted to sell the additional flats in the redeveloped building to non-Parsis. This led the Parsee Central Association Cooperative Housing Society to approach the court in 2003. The society was formed at the turn of the last century with the aim to acquire lands and construct buildings and let them out to members of the Parsee Zoroastrian community.

“The principal issue involved in this suit is whether the covenant, which restricts the use of flats in reserved area of Dadar Matunga Estate to Parsi Zoroastrians only, is a good covenant and is enforceable against non-Parsis who seek to occupy flats in reserved area through the builder,’’ said the suit filed by the society.

The court granted a permanent injunction restraining the builder from letting out or transferring any part or portion of the building to anyone who was not a member of the community. In 2007, the state urban development department had issued a letter to the BMC, upholding the Parsi-only covenant in this colony. In the late 1920s, The Bombay Improvement Trust and the society had signed an agreement for a 999-year lease of several plots in the reserved area (Dadar Matunga Estate) with certain restrictive covenants by which no member other than the members of the Parsi Zoroastrian community could use and occupy the premises.

“Various institutions and organisations of Parsis have grown up catering to the needs of the community in the reserved area for over 75 years. The reserved area has been sort of a nucleus for bringing up children in religious practices in the formative years and inculcate in them religious teachings. A right atmosphere is created in the reserved area which is conducive to the upbringing of Parsi Zoroastrian children in their way of life and to preserve their culture. Breach of covenant would adversely affect the religious, social, cultural and traditional continuity, solidarity and advancement of the small community,’’ said the society.

The developer, on its part, submitted that the matter was not based on either the bylaws or rules and regulations of the cooperative society but was based on the enforceability of a “restrictive covenant’’ under the Transfer of Property Act.

The developer further contended that the lease deeds were made over 75 years ago. “The conditions that prevailed then and the needs of the society existing at that time were quite different and cannot be compared with those which exist (now),’’ said the defendants. The developer had made an offer to sell the flats only to members of the community but at the prevailing market rate. But the society turned down this offer as the houses in this area were meant to be subsidised for community members. The society was represented by advocates Mulla & Mulla while the developer was represented by Divya Shah Associates. The matter is expected to be challenged in the high court by the builder.

Nearly 10,000 of Mumbai’s 45,000 Zoroastrians stay here

Link via email from Mickie Sorabjee

  • Siloo Kapadia

    HOORAY! Our distinct indentity will be protected to the last Parsee. And the way things are going it will not be long now till we see the LAST PARSEE. Stupid people. Perhaps we deserve to die out. Survival of the least stupid, perhaps?

  • Dara Darabshaw Aria

    Congratulation, Dinyar Panthaki. I being a resident of Dadar Parsi Colony know how important it is for us, Parsi/Irani Zoroastrians to live together in a Colony.
    Some 50 years back, when I used to walk the lanes/streets of Dadar Parsi Colony, knew each and every one staying on those roads, if not by name, at least by their face. And we used to exchanged pleasentaries, by waving out a hand or by saying ‘Sahbji’. Those were the days.

  • Yazdy Palia

    Congratulations. The Parsis’ who live in Parsi colony have taken things for granted. You guys do not know how fortunate you are. It is Parsis who live in distant places and are not able to keep in touch with their brothers who know the value of a Parsi colony.

  • HOORAH FOR INDIA ,HOORAH FOR JUSTICE, HOORAH FOR AAPROO MUMBAI.No where on this blessed Earth is a smaller community of people that commands so much love respect and admiration .Having said that let’s not forget our fellow citizen’s in our zeal to be exclusive ,We have a big resposibility to help bring INDIA out of its Religious, Communal, & Caste shackles to make it proud of its centuries old tradition of religious tolerance and freedom , We Parsis till the last will forever be grateful.

  • sarosh

    Yes they dont know what they have…….

  • Aban Jussawalla

    Congrats Dinyar! Keep up the good work. Very few Paris take such pains just to see other Zoroastrians happy!

  • Aban Jussawalla

    Congrats Dinyar! Keep up the good work. Very few Parsis take such pains just to make other Zoroastrians happy!

  • Delnavaz

    Hi Dinyar,

    God bless you. Thank you for your service to our community. .


  • Arnoz


    Keep the Parsi United,,,

  • At least some good news to bring cheers. By the way,if a Parsee intends to purchase a property (flat), or for that matter member of another community who are
    non vegetarians,such buyers are refused accomodation on the pretext that the the builder is constructing the building exclusively for Jains. Just make enquiries in up coming constructions in South Mumbai and you will know what I mean.

  • Its certainly worth it considering the fact that Bombay was developed by this very community.

  • rustom jamasji

    I agree with Yazdi Palia comment that Zoroastrians who stay in Zoro colony have taken things for granted. Not only dont they realise the fact but thrive to ignore the history of hardships that the builders and donors of such had undertaken ..only for the sole purpose of Zoroastrianism surviving…

    ..i guess this amounts to the last hypocratical philanthrophy…be a proud Parsi when it comes to laying claims to flats and assets, yet putting it in practise becomes,difficult, dogmatic, feel it worthless to study their roots, history and faith yet thrive to promote and preach other faiths and lastly the next generation totally devoid of his/her roots then sees no reason for protecting n seeing the continuation of the faith, changes the demography by interfaith mariages..(The main excuse then is ‘everying is the same).Ofcourse no punjabi, sikh, muslim, christian , jain is ever gonna change their faith, nor allow such demographical changes in their areas nor deem fit not to study theirs under the garb everything is the same..

  • Doreen

    Lucky you, you Parsis. I am a proud Englishwoman living in England. I love my culture but this is now fast disappearing for to try to preserve it would brand me a racist in England.

  • rustom jamasji

    Hi Doreen
    Yes now days those who want to preserve their roots and culture are brandished racist. The racist card is the most misrepresnted and used one. Whilst protecting ones distinct identity has nothing to do with feeling or portraying oneself superior, the ones who misuse this always try and portray the ones protecting themselves as belitling others. Emotional blackmail and being political correctness albiet to suit oneself. Thats real selfishness
    We also have these ‘hollier than thou’ people amongst us zoroastrians…yet these then shy away from real racism, for example in the recent Dubai zoroastrian conference, the authorities forbid any topic that would entail discussion of any other religion than Islam or when they themself act racist and thwart any attemps for a community to save its culture

  • Mickie Sorabjee

    The title of this article is a misnomer of sorts and the ensuing euphoria is somewhat premature in the light of continued state of construction work being carried out in this predominantly Parsee environ. Although community welfare organisations affiliated to this large Zoroastrian commune are constantly engaged in successfully defending their Parsee Covenant rights in law courts, reality is very disturbing.
    Their drawback is that they cannot restrain owners from selling their properties to non-Parsee developers/builders who then seek to sell the new flats to non-Parsee/Irani Zoroastrians in buildings not covered by the Parsee Covenant. Their long drawn legal battles at great cost to their limited Trust Funds, to allow only members of our community to live in this reserved area, therefore does not fully fructify as this restricted vicinity within Dadar Parsee Colony is dotted with several buildings which fall outside the purview of the Parsee Covenant umbrella.
    What can be more incongruous than presently seeing the corner triangular structure at the head of the DPC entrance and strategically located immediately behind the founder, Mancherji Edulji Joshi’s statue, being set-up for demolition to make way for another ill-conceived skyward edifice that will further deface the beauty of a well-laid out heritage enclave and quintessentially Parsee-inhabited colonial buildings. The most disconcerting part is the alleged word that it will house a Jain Dera on its premises.
    Interestingly, this trend of introducing NON-PARSEE property developers/builders to raze sturdy Parsee-owned structures like Gai and Daruwala Buildings under the guise of gainful re-development, can in monumental irony be credited to the one whom colonites expected to safeguard their interests as a Trustee of the community’s Apex Body and erstwhile Municipal Corporator from this ward. For the late individual, these transactions were probable lucrative deals. Alas, they have sadly left several community brethren forcibly displaced/relocated, and regrettably given the colony a legacy of deprived exclusivity.

  • CJ


    You do have a point !
    The Parsees live in great harmony with all the other communities in India and are well-respected and liked by other Indians.
    The Parsees have also given a lot back to India by way of
    Charitable Institutions open to all Indians (the total land area of these probably amounts to an area larger than the Dadar Parsee Colony).
    This miniscule effort to preserve their diminishing community and its traditions has not the slightest motive of racism or hatred.

  • Doreen Balsara

    Hello Rustom,
    You are not telling me anything new – my husband has already been telling me this, he lived in a Parsi colony so he knows.
    I also know of the good works done by Parsis, just one name alone stands out and that is Tata. I always found on my many visits to Bombay when my father-in-law was alive, that all Indians have great respect for the Parsis.
    I do hope you have not taken my comments to be racist, they certainly weren’t meant to be. The simple fact is, I envy the fierce pride the Parsis have in their culture and their relentless efforts to preserve it.

  • Zerxes Dordi

    Any latest information on the present status of litigation?