THE BOMBY SAMACHAR 06/02/2011
ACCIDENTS OF HISTORY AND PARSI POPULATION
A Canadian research scholar, Dr. Mitra Sharafi (Colonial Parsis and the Law: A Cultural History – K.R. Cama Oriental publication) has claimed that (a) Bella, of Bella v/s. Saklat case, was born of both Parsi parents and (b) Sir Dinshaw Davar, of Davar – Beaman judgment in Petit v/s. Jeejibhoy, was a die-hard orthodox and anti-conversion.
To refresh your memory, Petit v/s. Jeejibhoy (also known as the Parsi Panchayet case), held that while Zoroastrianism not only permitted but enjoined conversion, there was not a single instance of conversion being practised by the Parsis in India, and therefore, the French Mrs.Tata (JRD’s mother), despite her Navjote, was not a Parsi Zoroastrian entitled to the benefit of Parsi trusts. Some contend that this shows that Davar was not biased, as he held in favour of conversion but was helpless in the face of overwhelming custom to the contrary. However, Dr. Sharafi’s research shows that Davar was publicly orthodox and anti-conversion, to the extent that, much later, he was about to proceed to Rangoon, to testify as a legal expert, in Bella v/s. Saklat, against Bella’s admission into the faith (however, he died before the journey). Dr. Sharafi also alleges that a then leading solicitor, J.J. Vimadalal was ‘responsible behind the scenes’ for ‘egging on Davar to give an anti-conversion ruling’ in Petit v/s. Jeejibhoy.
Dr. Sharafi also extensively researched into Bella’s family history and has produced compelling evidence which shows that Bella’s biological father was a Parsi, and in all probability, so was her mother. If this was established, Bella v/s. Saklat, which is the most authoritative judgment on : Who is a Parsi, would have never happened and the paternity principle (which so bugs our AIMZ ladies and ARZ supporters) never laid down.
Similarly, if JJ Vimadalal (may his soul rest in eternal peace) was not so naughty or Justice Dinshaw Davar was not so biased or had been replaced by a British judge (Beaman, J. was in favour of upholding Mrs. Tata’s entry but grudgingly gave in to Davar’s ‘superior’ knowledge), then Petit v/s. Jeejibhoy may have permitted the French Mrs. Tata and hundreds after her into our depleting community (using the expression loosely).
Were these two epoch making judgments then mere accidents of history? But for them, would the Parsi population been much more healthy. In their zeal to preserve, our orthodox, over the ages, sowed the seeds of destruction, so unwittingly. Destiny uses one as an instrument of its decree, even though some of us pompously believe