THE LEGAL spat between trustees of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) and the former chairperson of the board, Dinshaw Mehta took an ugly turn after the trustees made an exposé of all the evidence they have collected to prove their allegations of financial impropriety and criminal breach of trust against Mehta. The case pertains to the sale of tenency of the first floor of Dadi House, a commercial property owned by the trust in Fort in which the trustees had alleged misappropriation of Rs 25 lakhs.
The issue began back in 2013 when Musharraf Yusuf Kader wanted to purchase the sale of tenancy rights of a property which falls under the ‘pagdi’ system. “He paid Rs 55 lakhs to the previous tenant and the BPP trustees as the landlord of the property passed a resolution to sell the tenancy rights to Kader for Rs 45 lakhs,” said Kersi Randeria, one of the trustees.
The trustees alleged that the former chairperson, Dinshaw Mehta asked Kader to pay Rs 20 lakhs by cheque and give the remaining amount in cash to the late Mehli Colah, former CEO of BPP. “Kader submitted a cheque of Rs 20 lakhs to the BPP on March 28, 2013 and dropped off the remaining amount in cash at Colah’s residence on March 30 when he should have given the entire amount in cheque as mandated by the law,” said Randeria.
The matter came to light when the current chairman who was also a trustee at the time, Yazdi Desai, found out that the entire amount of
Rs 45 lakhs had not reached the BPP account. “Mehta was in a hurry to get the affidavit signed and he sent it to my house which got me suspicious. When I inquired, I was told that only 20 lakhs has been paid. I, thus, impounded the agreement and stopped the process,” said Desai. He added that evidence later indicated that Dinshaw had made a cash transaction after which the other trustees decided to file a complaint with the Economic Offences Wing.
Randeria pointed out that in November 2013, the trustees cornered Dinshaw and asked him to resign since he was found to be complicit in offences including misappropriation of funds. “Mehta had agreed to resign after December with dignity. We had obliged and agreed to let him do so. However, he never turned up to sign his resignation and a day later Kader turned up with Rs 25 lakhs in five cheques. The next day, Mehta sent an email to all the trustees which stated that he won’t resign any longer since the money has been paid to BPP,” said Randeria. Mehta finally retired on October 23, 2015 after completing a maximum term of 21 years. His son, Viraf Mehta is now on the board of trustees.
As part of the evidence, the trustees have five affidavits which include one filed by Colah’s wife, Anaita Colah in which she stated that she was present when Kader dropped off Rs 25 lakhs in cash at her residence. “We also have audio recordings in which Mehta’s sons can be heard asking Kader to put the blame on the late CEO Colah so that their father can be exonerated from all charges,” said Randeria. Currently, the property is yet to be transferred to Kader.
Refuting all the claims, Mehta stated that he never asked Kader to submit money in cash. “This is just a political game and Kader is
being threatened by the trustees. They have fabricated the facts that cannot be corroborated. I had never asked him to pay by cash. In fact, he had gone to Colah requesting if he could give the money in cash since it would be more convenient for him. We had thus given him 3-4 months to pay the remaining amount,” said Mehta.
Upon the directions from the Metropolitan Court, the MRA Marg police station registered an FIR against Mehta as well as Kader and two of his colleagues on June 16.
The case is now pending in court and is up for a hearing on August 2. The trustees also met with the Commissioner of Police, Dattatray Padsalgikar, regarding the issue on July 8.