Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Mumbai Parsis step in defence of banned priests

The Bombay high court has admitted an appeal, filed by eminent Parsis, challenging a ban on two Zoroastrian priests from praying at the Towers of Silence because they have been conducting initiation ceremonies for children from mixed marriages.

By Manoj R Nair  / DNA

Former municipal commissioner Jamshed Kanga and former managing director of Tata Chemicals Homi Khusrokhan had approached the court after the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) banned priests Framroze Mirza and Khushroo Madon from praying or performing religious ceremonies at the BPP-managed Towers of Silence: Godavara Agiary at Fort and SF Jokhi Agiary at Godrej Baug, Napeansea Road.

The two have been joined by prominent Parsis like former solicitor general of India TR Andhyarujina, Thermax group’s Anu Aga, gynaecologist Dr Rustom Soonawala, Dr Keki (Hector) Grant of Pune’s Ruby Clinic, and Dilnawaz Variava, wife of former Supreme Court judge Sam Variava.

The priests were banned in June 2009 because they had been conducting Navjotes for children from mixed marriages and offering after-death prayers for those opting for non-traditional funerals.

After the ban, Kanga and Khusrokhan had earlier taken out what is called an Originating Summon to find out whether the BPP’s trust deeds gave its trustees the authority to decide on a religious matter.

“Originating Summons are filed to seek the court’s assistance in interpreting legal documents,” said Kanga. “The BPP trustees said they had passed the resolution banning the priests after they were asked to do so by the community’s high priests.”

The court had dismissed the application. Kanga and Khusrokhan then filed an appeal against the order. On Wednesday, the court admitted the appeal and scheduled the next hearing on November 8.

The BPP has challenged the appeal. Dinshaw Mehta, BPP chairman, said, “The appeal’s maintainability has to be argued. That is why we agreed mutually to have the matter heard early.”