BPP gets SC nod to build on disputed plot
After almost three decades of litigation, the Bombay parsu Punchayet is free to construct at least a hundred flats at Punthaky Baug in Andheri. Last Friday, the Supreme Court cleared the decks for the Punchayat when it dismissed two special leave petitions filed before it that were preventing the trust from providing these houses to Parsis by way of a cross-subsidy scheme.
The Punchayat said it faced the “the long-standing dispute caused by the late Pestonji Dhunjishaw Zilla and after his demise, his legal heirs” and with the SC order, Dinshaw Mehta, its chairperson, said “hopefully it has come to an end”.
Courtesy : Jehangir Bisney
“Boost For BPP” Or Backseat For Transparency?
This has reference to the report “HC Boost for BPP in Dadrawala Case” published on the front page of Jam-e-Jamshed dated 5th December 2010.
The Order of the Charity Commissioner and the recent order of the Bombay High Court have been so caught up in narrow technicalities that the real issue has been completely side-lined and I deem it important to lay bare the facts before the community.
The all important issue which I have been battling since well over a year is Transparency & Accountability – something that every aspiring BPP trustee had promised to the electorate more than two years ago.
More than a year ago, I was compelled to file an application before the charity commissioner since my colleagues refused to furnish information concerning availability of flats, minutes of the meetings of the previous board of trustees etc. They had taken the view that if the information which I had sought is given to me, it would be used by me against them in the High Court in the case of allotment of flats. I was and continue to be of the view that right to information is my fundamental right as a duly elected trustee and any information sought by a trustee in whom the funds, assets and properties are legally vested cannot be denied or concealed. Also, no information can be ‘misused’ unless there is something illegal, irregular or improper.
When my case was being argued before the charity commissioner the key argument was why I did not take this matter up in the High Court when the trustees appealed against the order of the charity commissioner in the matter of allotment of flats to 104 applicants cleared by the previous board of trustees?
The answer is simple; there was no scope for me to take this matter up in the High Court since a Consent Order had been passed by the High Court to appoint a one man committee to look into the allotment of flats.
In any case, after nearly a year, the charity commissioner passed an order directing the trustees to provide me with some of the information which in I had then sought. My colleagues promptly moved the Bombay High Court to obtain a stay order.
The trustees have been successful in convincing the court that the information which I have sought has been furnished to the High Court. My contention is – if the information has indeed been given to the court why not give it to me for scrutiny as well. To the best of my knowledge and belief, only sketchy and incomplete information has been given to the High Court.
It is a fact that I have been elected as a trustee of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet since October 2008 but to this date not a single copy of the minutes of the meetings of the Wadia Committee of Management have been given to me despite innumerable oral and written requests.
I have been actively participating in the meetings of the Wadia Committee of Management for the last several months. Is there any justification for not giving me minutes of these meetings?
It is also a fact that despite several written and oral requests, I have not been privy to even the audited statements of account for the past two years. When I requested the chairman for a copy he asked me to obtain copies from the charity commissioner’s office. “Why should we make things easy for you”, he recently told me.
Ideally, in the interest of transparency and accountability the audited statements of accounts should be published in the BPP review and put up on the BPP’s website. What could be the reason for not doing that?
Finally, I think it is important for the community to know how much the BPP has spent in legal expenses merely to conceal basic and fundamental information from a colleague trustee.
My colleagues are gloating about yet another “Victory”. However, in my view no so-called ‘Victory’ is final & no so-called ‘defeat’ is permanent. What really counts is moving on with head held high – content in the knowledge that I did my best and the belief that what I did was also for the best!
Believe in your Dreams and they May come true;
Believe in Yourself and they Will come true.