In a significant ruling, the Bombay High Court cleared the decks for over 1.25 Parsis in the world to gather under one roof. Justice AM Khanwilkar ruled on Thursday that any Parsi in any corner of the world can become a member of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP).
Besides, Justice Khanwilkar also ruled that any Parsi, who is of 18-years age can vote for the oncoming elections in the BPP. Earlier, in August 2006, the HC had directed the BPP to hold the elections before August 2007. The elections which are to be held every seven years were last held in 1993.
Of the total Parsi population, around 40,000 Parsis reside in Mumbai of which only 22,000 Parsis are general members of the BPP. Bedsides, there are around 1,200-1,500 Donor members who have the right to cast two votes. Any Parsi can become a member after paying Rs 1,000 as fees whereas the fees for Donor member is Rs 25,000 cash or kind.
The court was hearing bunch of petitions regarding the elections and trustees of the BPP. The HC has also laid down the guidelines for the elections. The elections are to be held either on a Saturday or a Sunday within the next six months. Till fresh trustees are elected, the present seven trustees under the chairmanship of Minoo Shroff, will continue.
The trustees will continue for a maximum of three terms each, comprising seven years each or for 21 years, whichever is earlier, stated the HC.
Any Parsi can become a member of the BPP and will be eligible to vote. There is no cap on granting membership in the BPP, however it has to be done within 60days after the trustees are elected. However, the Donor members will have to claim their right to cast two votes within 180 days after they pay their fees.
The order is significant as earlier there was restriction on the number of Parsis who could vote. Any person can enroll as a general member, however, if there are say, for example only 100 donor members, then 100 members from general category would be elected who would then vote for the trustees. Now irrespective of the number of donor members, all general members can vote too.