The newly-elected Bombay Parsi Punchayet faces dissolution. The over 350-year-old trust, among the oldest in the city, had for the first time conducted a universal adult franchise to elect trustees recently.
The punchayet’s only hope is a writ petition filed in the high court that comes up for hearing on March 17, in which they have challenged the charity commissioner’s order.
On Monday, joint charity commissioner NV Deshmukh had said, “The trust was to file its compliance on a January 23 order given by me today. It has not done so.”The order states, “Non-compliance has led to breach of duty on the part of trustees. Section 67 of the Bombay Public Trust Act, 1950 provides that contravention of provisions of this act amounts to an offence. The trustees have committed an offence.”
In his January 23 order (DNA, January 24), the commissioner directed the punchayet to allot houses to 104 needy Parsis, which was approved by the previous trustees. He had stated that 74 ‘residential accommodations’ available with the trust be given to the allottees within a month, and details of vacant flats with the trust be made available to his office, so that a decision on remaining allotments can be taken by March 2. The trust lawyer requested the commissioner to stay his order till the March 17 high court hearing. The commissioner rejected the request as they did not move the court within the stipulated 40 days.
The trust has five trustees after the demise of Rustom Tirandaz. The commissioner excluded dissenting trustee Noshir Dadrawala. “He submitted his willingness to provide houses. Action for violation will be taken against all trustees except him,” he said.
Punchayet chairman Dinshaw Rusi Mehta said, “Let the office prosecute us. We will defend ourselves. We have filed an appeal in the HC. The HC should have had its say. He passed orders beyond his jurisdiction. Of the 104 cases we reviewed, only 64 were found deserving.”
Original article here.