Grant Rd agiary caught between two sets of trustees
Aslaji Bhikhaji Agiary’s trustees are embroiled in a legal battle over control of the temple management and funds
One of the most frequented Parsi agiaries in the city is embroiled in a conflict among its trustees over control of the temple management and funds.
Aslaji Bhikhaji Agiary, which was consecrated on September 7, 1865, is located near Congress House in a lane off Grant Road Station, has an estimated income of over Rs1 crore per year.
The agiary is dedicated to Mithra, and the city’s Parsi community swears by its power to mitigate their problems and fulfil their wishes. However, two sets of agiary’s trustees are fighting over its management before the Bombay City Civil Court.
The litigation has been going around in the courts, the Charity Commissioner’s Office
(CCO) to the Bombay High Court and back to the CCO, from where it has been sent to the civil court.
City judge KP Joshi has an application filed by trustee Erach Master and three trustees, Cyrus Malesar, Adil Shroff and Rusi Kelawala, appointed by him. The CCO had rejected their appointment against the Charity Commissioner, who appointed three new trustees — Katy Baam (ex-Justice of the Bombay High Court), Burjorji Antia (solicitor) and one Hoshang Mehta — on March 27, 2008.
The application has asked the city court to restrain Baam, Antia and Mehta from acting as trustees until the court decides on which set of trustees is legally in charge and entitled to manage the trust properties.
The civil court litigation stems from the CCO rejecting the co-option of Malesar, Shroff and Kelawala on the Agiary Trust Board (ATB) on October 14, 2005, by Master who allegedly posed as the sole remaining trustee.
Master explained his sole trustee position to the CCO saying that of the five original trustees one died (Vakil) and two resigned- Engineer and Mehlii Menesse. In 2001, Master and one Gustad Patel were the remaining trustees according to Master. After Patel also resigned on February 21, 2004 and his resignation was accepted by CCO, Master claimed that he alone remained on the ATB.
CCO held that Mehlii Menesse, one of the original trustees and a member of the Settlor’s family, had not resigned May 12, 1998, as alleged by Master. There were two trustees on board in 2004. CCO’s order stated that the appointment of Malesar, Shroff and Kelawala was made without following due procedure, and was therefore illegal.
Original article here.