Before his death in March 2007, Dr Shapoor Behram Badshah, a rich Parsi living in Germany, wanted to do something for the welfare of Mumbai’s street children.
He executed a will, which provided for the construction of a hospital, a prayer hall and a shelter home for the homeless kids.
Badshah’s will stated that a large part of his estate comprising movable and immovable properties was to be administered by the Dr Shapoor Behram Badshah Charitable Trust. His two Mumbai-based sons were bequeathed certain properties.
However, according to a petition filed in Bombay High Court, Badshah’s two sons allegedly suppressed the fact that their father had left a will and obtained the right to administer his entire estate.
In an unprecedented order, given recently, the HC not only confirmed that Badshah did leave a will, but also stated that if his two sons failed to comply with their father’s wishes stated in the will, then the chairperson of Akanksha, an NGO working for street children, would be appointed as administrator of Badshah’s estate.
If the responsibility is not accepted by Akanksha then the chairperson of World Vision, another NGO, would be appointed administrator, Justice Roshan Dalvi ruled.
Interestingly, Shaheen Mistry, chairperson of Akanksha, was totally unaware of this order. “We have not been consulted in any such matter,” she told DNA and requested this correspondent to provide her a copy of the order.
The petition in the HC was filed by Bomi Pirojshah Sachinwala, who claimed to be the executor of Badshah’s will and the contractor of the proposed hospital. Badshah’s sons denied that their father had executed a will.
They maintained that they had a cordial relationship with their father and were to perform his funeral. Yet, none of them was made executor under the will and were bequeathed only a small part of their father’s estate. “Hence the will is unconscionable,” their lawyers argued.
Sachinwala pointed out that Badshah, who visited India before his death, was unhappy over the delay in the construction of the hospital and had filed a case against his company in the Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
Justice Dalvi held that Badshah’s complaint in the Consumer Forum made reference to his “desire to utilise his money for charitable purposes for the downtrodden. It is averred in the complaint that it is for that purpose that the deceased (Badshah) used to come from Germany, where he was settled, to India, which was his motherland, to construct a hospital building. This very averment lends credence to the execution of the will.”
The HC held that Sachinwala could not be appointed executor of the will as he had renounced the executorship in 2002 in a letter written to Badshah. The court
has directed Badshah’s sons to obtain a letter of administration as per the will within four months.