Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Parsee General Hospital transfer deal triggers row

MUMBAI: The 106-year-old Parsi General Hospital’s plan to allow Medanta Group of Hospitals to use a portion of its 10-acre Breach Candy property worth an estimated Rs2,000 crore is snowballing into a controversy within the Parsi community. TOI has learnt that Medanta will be allowed to operate a new hospital within the premises for up to 45 years without obtaining the charity commissioner’s approval.

Article by Nauzer Bharucha | Times Of India

The hospital management agreement, a copy of which is in TOI’s possession, states Medanta will initially pay a security deposit of Rs2 crore and cash deposit of Rs4 crore to Parsi General. The hospital, for exclusive use of Parsis since 1913, has been incurring a loss of Rs6 crore a year and currently has an occupancy rate of less than 30%.

The new seven-storey building will be constructed by Parsi General Hospital after a Parsi philanthropist couple in Hong Kong, the Shroffs, announced a donation of over Rs150 crore last year. The new hospital will be equipped and managed by Medanta for 30 years with a renewal option for another 15 years. “An exclusive right to run the hospital for profit for 45 years amounts to transfer of interest within the ambit of Section 36 of Bombay Public Trust Act,” said a legal expert who reviewed the agreement.

But the hospital management claimed the multi-specialty hospital to be run by Medanta will cross-subsidise the existing loss-making hospital. The agreement reveals another anomaly, which community activists say raises eyebrows. The Bombay Parsi Punchayat (BPP), owner of the Parsi General complex, is not a party to the agreement. In fact, the hospital’s managing committee had refused to furnish a copy of the proposed agreement to BPP until an exchange of emails compelled it to part with it. Advocate Khushru Zaiwala, who has moved the charity commissioner seeking dismissal of the managing committee, said in his application, “The managing committee of the Hospital Trust, constituted only for the internal management of the same, are presently collaborating and colluding with each other, to transfer a substantial area of the hospital, worth over Rs2,000 crore, to Medanta Corporation under the guise of a Management Contract.” The application also sought injunction against the hospital management from transferring the property to a third party without calling for “best offers” through ads/public auction followed by permission of charity commissioner.

Responding to a questionnaire sent by TOI, the hospital’s managing committee president Homa Petit issued a statement saying: “It would be improper for the committee to answer your queries since the same form the subject matter of an application filed by one Mr. Zaiwala, before the office of the Charity Commissioner. Suffice it to say that it is most unfortunate and truly regrettable that the ill-advised actions of a few are seeking to prevent the benefits that would otherwise flow to the entire Zoroastrian community.” A legal expert said though both BPP and the hospital are public charitable trusts governed by Bombay Public Trust Act, neither were offers invited nor the charity commissioner’s nod obtained before entering into the agreement. “This is mandatory under Section 36 of the Act,” he said. “The trust deed states land and buildings can be used only for a hospital for only Parsis. This raises the issue if a cosmopolitan new hospital can be housed in the complex.”