The Bombay Parsi Punchayet’s new board of trustees has moved an application to the charity commissioner to free up all its properties so that flats in the Parsi Baugs can be allotted to community members in the waiting. The charity commissioner had put a stay on all punchayet property transactions in 2013, and since then not a single flat has been allotted.
“We submitted the application earlier this month, and are hoping that the stay is lifted so that the community members are benefitted,” said new chairman Yazdi Desai, who was elected last month.
While Desai was re-elected and made the chairman by seniority, four news trustees — Noshir Dadrawala, Kersi Randeria, Zarir Bhathena and Viraf Mehta — are now a part of the seven-member punchayet.
Desai said that the charity commissioner’s stay was given after a case of misappropriation of funds was filed against the earlier chairman, Dinshaw Mehta. “Now that Mehta’s tenure is over, the case has become infructuous,” Desai said.
The infighting in the earlier punchayet board has been fodder for gossip in the community. In July 2013, after the controversial sale of tenancy of Dady House, a commercial property at Bora Bazar lane in Fort, the infighting took a turn for the worse.
While Mehta claimed that Rs 45 lakh was paid, Desai alleged the sale was fixed at Rs 65 lakh. Following this, four trustees, including Desai, filed a complaint against Mehta at the Economic Offences Wing for misappropriation of funds and obtained a stay from the charity commissioner, stalling all property deals.
Since the stay, the punchayet, known to be one of the largest landholders in the city, has 140 flats lying vacant in several Parsi Baugs. Several people in the community in need subsided housing have been left in the lurch.
“Property and housing consists of 90 per cent of the punchayet’s dealings. The community has suffered a lot, as people who have paid for houses haven’t been able to move in. The recently married couples waiting for flats have been forced to stay elsewhere. The stay should have been revoked long ago by the majority of trustees,” Jehangir Patel, editor of community magazine Parsiana, said.
The new board’s application has already been challenged by Mehta and two other trustees, Muncherji Cama and Armaity Tirandaz. Mehta has also demanded an apology from the trustees for maligning his image. The next hearing by the charity commissioner is scheduled on December 1.