ROW OVER ‘RENEGADE’ PRIESTS: Bombay Parsi Punchayet says Sarosh Kapadia is also Parsi, will click with community while pointing to depleting coffers and huge litigation costs.
The Supreme Court on Monday recommended mediation in the ‘renegade’ Parsi priests issue and suggested the name of former Chief Justice of India Sarosh Kapadia. While the first mediation attempt fell through last month, the Parsis are now hopeful that Kapadia will take it to a logical end.
The Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) had banned two priests — Framroze Mirza and Khushroo Madon — in 2009 from performing any rituals inside Doongerwadi and two BPP-controlled fire temples after they were found to have performed religious ceremonies for Parsis who chose to be cremated and Navjote for kids who had non-Parsi fathers.
Eminent Parsis Jamsheed Kanga and Homi Khushrokhan had challenged the ban on behalf of the priests. While the Bombay High Court quashed the ban in 2011, the decision was challenged by BPP in the Supreme Court.
The SC appointed a mediator to try and settle the dispute amicably. However, this attempt failed on April 16 after a majority of the seven BPP trustees voted against it.
Confirming the development, BPP chairman Dinshaw Mehta said, “We are hopeful that the matter gets resolved amicably. We will approach the former CJI and we are hoping that he agrees to mediate. Kapadia, a Parsi himself, will be more easily accepted by the community.”
The next hearing is scheduled on May 19 and we have to get back to the court by then,” added Mehta.
Over the past three years, BPP has spent more than Rs 3 crore of community funds in litigation expenses. “We are bleeding at the moment. In the last two months, we have spent over Rs 30 lakh just to get dates for the next hearing,” said Mehta, adding that BPP trustees are divided on the issue, with a majority wanting the case to be decided by the court.
“We will have to put in many more crore if we decide to fight the case in court,” he added. Community members too are hopeful that the case may come to a logical end if Kapadia mediates. “Kapadia was felicitated by BPP after he was appointed as CJI. He will definitely have impact on the trustees, given his position,” said Jehangir Patel, editor of Parsiana, a community magazine.