Row over Parsi hospital’s pact with private firm goes to Bombay High Court

A quaint heritage Parsi hospital property built in 1895 and lying defunct for several decades in the prime Fort area of south Mumbai will be redeveloped into an orthopaedic and neurosurgery centre.

Article by Nauzar Bharucha | TNN

275979-motherhood.jpgLast week, six of the seven trustees of the Bombay Parsi Punchayat (BPP) finalized an agreement with the private healthcare group Krimson Health Venture. But Punchayat chairman Dinshaw Mehta has opposed the deal and challenged it in the Bombay high court. Mehta said the BPP should have invited bids by making a public announcement to get the best deal from other players in the healthcare sector. His co-trustees denied the allegation, stating that the Krimson offer was the best they had received.

The court is scheduled to decide the case by late April. The Dr Tehmulji’s Parsi Lying-in Hospital, near New Excelsior cinema off D N Road, has not been functioning for close to three decades now. The BPP, Mumbai’s largest private landlord, has unsuccessfully tried to either sell the property or redevelop it.

For generations, Parsi women delivered their babies in these high-ceilinged rooms and, as was the post-natal practice of the time, continued to stay on for as long as 40 days to recuperate.

But over time the hospital fell into disuse because mothers preferred to head home after delivery. The six trustees, Khojeste Mistree, Yazdi Desai, Jimmy Mistry, Arnavaz Mistry, Muncherji Cama and Armaity Tirandaz, who signed the consent terms with Krimson, claimed that the firm had offered the best deal to redevelop the property. Besides offering a lease rental of Rs 1 crore a year to the BPP, Krimson also agreed to treat for free 10% of inpatients and outpatients belonging to the Parsi Irani community. Under the agreement, Krimson will build a new hospital for an estimated Rs 46 crore and allot an area of up to 6,000 sq ft to the BPP (if FSI permits it) for its offices within the hospital premises.

“The consent terms will enable the hospital property, which has been lying unused and defunct for more than 20 years, to be put to good public use and will serve the interests of the Parsi community as well,” said the majority trustees. “It will not be a money-spinner for the BPP, but at least the property will be put to good use,” they said.

But Mehta maintained that no public advertisement was given for the alienation/lease of the 1,918 sq yard property. “Approval of the charity commissioner was obtained fraudulently… The undue haste in the office of the charity commissioner and conduct of the managing committee of the hospital clearly shows that there was a predetermined attempt to lease the land only to respondent no 18 (Krimson) for reasons which are not far to see,” said Mehta in his affidavit.

The property had received several offers in the past decade and a half. The neighbouring Cathedral and John Connon School had once offered to buy the property for Rs 35 crore. The Hinduja Group, which had plans to start a super-speciality hospital, also had put in its bid. The Ambanis and Shapoorji Pallonji, too, had shown interest in the hospital property.