FOR ALMOST 11 years now, an 800-square feet apartment in South Mumbai, with a monthly rent of just Rs 64, has been lying vacant. The reason — it can only be allotted to a Parsi police officer.
According to Mumbai Police officers, over 60 years ago, the Parsi community had reserved the apartment, on the first floor of Dhunjibhoy Building on Sleater Road in Tardeo, for a police officer belonging to the community. The building is owned by R D Mahaluxmiwala Charity Building Trust, which is a Parsi Trust.
In an agreement with the Mumbai Police, the Trust clearly mentioned that the apartment could only be allotted to a Parsi police officer. The Mumbai Police Commissioner was named as the tenant.
The last occupant was Firoz Ganjia, an Assistant Commissioner of Police who stayed on for a few years after his retirement. After he left in 2008, the apartment remained unoccupied, although there have been many interested police officers — but none from the community.
In March 2018, the Trust wrote to the Mumbai Police, reminding them that the apartment was still vacant.
“We have just two Parsi officers in the police department. One was recently posted out on deputation while one is attached with Special Branch II. We asked the officer whether he wanted to move to this building, but as he already has an apartment, he refused to shift. So we decided to surrender it to the Trust,” said Santosh Rastogi, Joint Commissioner of Police (Administration).
After getting the permission of then Mumbai Police Commissioner Subodh Jaiswal, a letter was sent to the state government last year. “We have to get their permission as well. We sent them a letter about six months ago, and are still awaiting their response,” said Rastogi.
Meanwhile, last month, the apartment was allotted to an Assistant Commissioner of Police, who was recently transferred from Kolhapur to Mumbai, through a computerised ‘e-awas system’ of the Mumbai Police.
“While I was staying at the Worli officers’ mess, I applied for the house through the e-awas system, following which this house was allotted to me,” said ACP Vinayak Narale, who was then posted with the Dadar division.
But he was not allowed to move in.
“He came to meet me after they didn’t allow him to take possession of the apartment . When I cross-checked, I realised that it was the same apartment. The local police station had, by mistake, shown the flat as vacant on our e-awas system,” said Rastogi.
Under the Mumbai Police e-awas system, modelled on the one operated by the Directorate of Estates under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, police personnel apply for vacant houses at locations of their choice. The list of vacant houses is released in the first week of every month.
While the R D Mahaluxmiwala Charity Building Trust officials refused to comment, the caretaker of the locality, J A Katrak emphasised that “only Parsis can stay here.”