Anu Aga and Dr Hector Grant, among others, to support priests who were barred from praying at the Towers of Silence by the Bombay Parsi Panchayat after they conducted Navjots of children from mixed marriages
By Manoj R Nair / Pune Mirror
Fault lines in the 50,000-strong Parsi community were thrown into sharp focus once again with the reformist and the orthodox groups crossing swords over mixed marriages.
Prominent Parsis, including former solicitor general T R Andhyarujina, Anu Aga of the Thermax industrial group and noted gynaecologist Dr Rustom Soonawala have closed ranks over the ban on two community priests who have been endorsing mixed marriages, from praying at the Towers of Silence.
Andhyarujina and Aga have filed applications in the Bombay High Court saying they want to intervene in an appeal filed by former municipal commissioner Jamshed Kanga against an earlier decision by the court to not stay the ban.
Apart from Aga, Andhyarujina and Soonawala, Dr Hector Grant of Pune’s Ruby Clinic and Dilnawaz Variava, former director of Bharat Tiles and wife of former Supreme Court judge Sam Variava have also sought intervention in the matter.
In June 2009, the Bombay Parsi Panchayat (BPP), the community’s apex representative body had barred priests Khushroo Madon and Faramroz Mirza from the cemetery because they had been conducting Navjotes or initiation ceremonies for children from mixed marriages and offering after-death prayers for those opting for non-traditional funerals.
The priests were also restrained from praying at two fire temples controlled by the trust.
Speaking on the issue, Andhyarujina said, “We support the cause of the two priests and we have made an application in the court that we would like to intervene.”
Following the ban, Kanga and former managing director of Tata Chemicals, Homi Khusrokhan filed what is called an originating summons, asking the court to interpret the BPP’s trust deeds to find out whether the organisation had powers to debar the priests. The court had dismissed the application.
Kanga said, “The originating summons had asked the court to interpret the deeds to find whether the trustees have the authority to debar priests.
But while giving the order, the judge was under the impression that only two of us were interested in the case, which is not true. We have no agenda of our own.
The intervenors (Andhyarujina, Aga, Soonawla and others) simply want to show that they represent the community intelligentsia and raise their voice against fundamentalist decisions.”
While the applications made by the intervenors are primarily meant to show their support for the originating summons, they can also present their views to the court.