Dinesh Mody (80), a senior Supreme Court lawyer and a prominent numismatist who had donated 25,000 coins to the Mumbai University (MU) to set up a museum in 2005 at its Kalina campus, is now allegedly auctioning these coins on February 2.
To stop the auction, a PIL was filed in the Bombay High Court Thursday by Farokh Todywalla (65), also a prominent numismatist and president of Mumbai Coin Society, who claims to have sold a part of his coin collection to Mody at a low price, some of which are on the block now.
Mody, who is the chairman of Dinesh Mody Institute of Numismatics and Archaeology (DMINA), plans to auction some of these coins under a series named ‘The Wardhaman collection of Indian coins – Part I’ on Sunday.
Todywalla, however, has claimed the auction is illegal. On January 27, he wrote to the MU’s vice-chancellor and senate member Sudhakar Tamboli claiming he had sold some of these coins in the series to be auctioned on Sunday to Mody at low prices since the latter wanted to donate them to the university’s numismatic museum. “…We have found that 45 coins that he bought from me in 2005 are part of the series to be auctioned,” Todywalla wrote.
Following his letter, MU’s registrar Dr M A Khan wrote to Mody on January 29, asking him to stop the auction.
Authorities from DMINA claimed they were not auctioning the museum’s coins, but from another collection of Mody. “Todywalla is an auctioneer himself.
Since we approached another Ahemdabad-based auctioneer for the auction on February 2, Todywalla came up with false allegations,” DMINA director Dr Dilip Rajgor said.
“After donating 25,000 coins to MU, Dineshbhai once again started collecting coins. The series to be auctioned is from the fresh collection,” Rajgor added.
Mody too wrote to the VC on January 29. “As per the agreement dated May 28, 1993, between me and University, I agreed to donate the coins of my collection which I possessed till then, and not that I collect in future.
After my donation, I have been collecting coins for my personal collection. The coins referred to by Todywalla were purchased by me during 2009 to 2013. The museum has nothing to do with them. I assure you that all the coins of the museum are intact. The register in museum and director and staff of museum will vouchsafe this.
The complaint of Todywalla is false and made out of business rivalry between him and Classical Numismatic Gallery, the present auctioneer,” the letter said.
Dr Khan said, “As of now, we do not have any records to check if these coins were donated to the Mumbai University. The museum is not run by the administration of MU. Until we have clarity, we have asked Mody to stay the auction or postpone it.”