Let me start by apologizing for this sordid state of affairs at the BPP. Never, when I stood for elections, did I expect some of my fellow Trustees to behave this way. A lot is to be said and explained, but for now, let me address only the allegations made by Trustee Yazdi Desai (YD) against Trustee Armaity R. Tirandaz (ART) and myself.
Let us set the record straight. In 2013, YD moved the Charity Commissioner and put a stay on Housing, so that my father, Dinshaw Mehta, couldn’t take part in housing decisions or chair the imminent World Zoroastrian Congress. YD had the Board’s majority at the time. There was no need to bring in a stay order. Yet, in his wisdom he didn’t relent and there were around 100-130 flats kept locked for almost three years. This is where the poor and needy actually suffered. All that the current Board is doing is allocating flats vacant since 2013 that should have been allocated three years ago. We are just covering up the error that YD committed.
Trustee Kersi Randeria and YD are obsessed with my father. They fail to see that I am my own individual and independently think as a Trustee. Despite all the slanderous messages floating around and the constant mocking of my family by Kersi Randeria in the Board room, I can still stand with my head held high, saying this decision made as a Trustee is prudent and in the interest of the Trust.
At the end of June 2016, 4 Trustees tried to execute and register a tenancy agreement to an individual, against whom YD and Khojeste Mistree had filed cases in the EOW and MRA Marg Police station, for misappropriation of charity funds. But now, with YD’s own admission he has stated that the charges levied were false. I informed that Board that I have been legally advised that a Trustee of the BPP cannot enter into any agreement, leave alone a Tenancy Agreement, with an individual against whom the BPP or a Trustee has filed a case of collusion in misappropriation. While Mr. Mistree no longer remains a Trustee of the BPP, the case was filed while he was. So all I requested the Board, especially YD, was to let the complaint against the accused be withdrawn, since YD himself agreed he was innocent, and then without any hesitation, ART and I could sign the tenancy.
Unfortunately, this request fell on deaf ears and the 4 Trustees, namely Kersi, Yazdi, Zarir and Noshir had a new Tenancy agreement drawn up with only their 4 names on it. I was shocked at the brazen attitude by my colleague Trustees and since ART and myself were left with no other option, we informed the Sub-Registrar not to register any Agreement which was ab-initio invalid and against law.
In the meantime we received a legal notice from Mr. Munchi Cama’s lawyer (Homa Petit’s legal firm of Vigil Juris) that all execution and Registration of any Tenancy or Leave License Agreement would be illegal unless signed by all seven Trustees. ART and I insisted on getting a legal opinion about the implications of Mr. Cama’s notice but the majority Trustees again decided to go ahead with only 6 Trustees. We naturally refused to be a part of such breach till we obtained proper legal advice on this issue. As simple a request as this has unfortunately been blown out of proportion. It has only been 3 weeks that we held back our signature until we get legal opinion, which is refused by majority 4. I was shocked to see YD’s write up in the Kersi Randeria owned PT.
To put things in perspective, while some Trustees would like to state that Munchi has resigned, it is a fact that MNC’s signature is still on all the BPP related bank accounts. Not just that, when we file cases on beneficiaries or when we want to settle cases by filing consent terms, we send the legal documents to MNC’s house for his signature which he does. This practice has been going on since we took office in October 2015 right till August 2016.
Neither ART or myself are from a legal background and we do not want to be on the wrong side of the law. We have executed over 50 Leave License Agreements but when the four Trustees threaten to execute Agreements with persons who are co-accused and when Mr. Cama sends legal notice of our default and we seek legal guidance, we are ignored leaving us no alternative but to complain to Sub-Registrar not to register any Agreement unless signed by all seven Trustees.
To think that ART or myself would deprive the poor and needy is an absolutely absurd assumption on the part of YD. Until the middle of July, we have ALL Collectively signed around 50 LL agreements. It was only after we received a notice from Mr. Cama’s (MNC) lawyer ART and myself decided to hold off signing until the Board gets a legal opinion to continue as we have with only 6 signatures.
As per unofficial legal advice obtained by us, since all properties of BPP vests in all seven Trustees, all Agreements have to be executed by all seven Trustees and only four Trustees cannot arrogate to themselves the power to execute and register such Agreements. Since the matter is now sub-judice let the law take its course.”
Trustee Viraf Dinshaw Mehta begins with an apology. He certainly has a lot to feel sorry for, starting with his seldom using his mind on any issue, without first consulting his father Mr. Dinshaw Rusi Mehta. He always has after-thoughts and change in his thinking after almost every meeting. No prizes for guessing why. Dinshaw Mehta has refused to retire gracefully and his son, Viraf Mehta has decided to be ‘His Father’s Voice’ at the BPP.
Viraf accuses Yazdi Desai for moving the Charity Commissioner (CC) in 2013 and bringing in a stay order. But, he conveniently does not disclose why Yazdi had to take this step and what Desai had originally gone to the CC for. Yazdi had moved the CC to restrain only Dinshaw Mehta, because there was a charge of suspicious cash dealing. But, Dinshaw Mehta insisted that all the Trustees should be restrained, and that’s the way the CC ruled. Therefore, to use Viraf’s own words, “This is where the poor and needy actually suffered.”
Viraf glibly talks about “slanderous messages floating around.” We would like to ask him as to who ignited the messages regarding the allotment of flat to Dr. Farokh Master and that too several months after the matter was approved unanimously. It was Viraf Mehta and his father and the reason being, that at the same time the Board was reinvestigating allotment of a flat to another homoeopath at Godrej Baug from a building now belonging to Mr. Mehta. Viraf also needs to answer who ignited the messages about a so-called ‘ban on Jame’ the very next morning, after the Trustees decided to merely stop advertising in that weekly.
Viraf again lies when he says, “At the end of June 2016, 4 Trustees tried to execute and register a tenancy agreement to an individual against whom YD and Khojeste Mistree had filed cases in the EOW and MRA Marg Police station of misappropriation of charity funds.” The fact is, the resolution has been passed and signed by all the Trustees unanimously, including Viraf. Viraf had after thoughts after consulting his dear daddy!
He says he has been legally advised “that a Trustee of the BPP cannot enter into any agreement, leave alone a Tenancy Agreement, with an individual against whom the BPP or a Trustee has filed a case of collusion in misappropriation.” He is misleading the community by alluding that it is the BPP which has filed the case. Once again, we must note that it is the individual, an ex-Trustee who has filed the complaint, and NOT the BPP. Further, please note that it is merely a complaint – there is no ongoing case.
We hope Virafs lawyers are aware that every citizen of India, including the one who is accused, is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty, as part of his Fundamental Rights. He has also not disclosed the legal source either to the Board or to the public. Here is a man who has paid all the money to the Trust and is in possession of the flat. All that the Trustees were required to do was execute the Tenancy Agreement! What is illegal about this? It is also interesting to note that Viraf’s father Dinshaw, Munchi Cama and Armaity Tirandaz have written a letter in February, 2014, stating clearly that this Tenancy Agreement must and should be executed!!
Viraf talks about a legal notice from Cama’s lawyer but, he does not mention that an almost similar notice was also served to the majority Trustees by Tirandaz’s lawyer. In the Board room, Tirandaz could not even remember the name of her own lawyer, much less realize that the notice was literally a ‘cut and paste’ job from the notice served by Cama’s lawyers! As a Board, we do feel sorry for her.
Viraf mindlessly talks about getting a legal opinion regarding Cama’s resignation. He should know that Cama’s resignation is a matter before the Charity Commissioner and it is for the CC to decide whether he stays on as Trustee or not. Therefore, while this matter is still before a quasi-judicial authority, would any legal luminary worth his salt give an opinion to direct the Trustees on what they should do or not do?
We forgive Viraf for his ignorance of the law and generally all his ignorance on matters concerning the governance of the Trust. Yes, Mr. Cama’s signatures are still on the records of all banks because unless the CC decides in the matter, the Trustees cannot instruct the banks to remove his signature. But, is Mr. Cama signing cheques? The answer is NO! Similarly, Mr. Cama’s signatures are taken on record where certain legal cases and settlements are involved.
Viraf’s conclusion wherein he talks about “unofficial legal advice” is laughable. He fails to point out Clause No.: 32 of the ‘Scheme of Election’, framed by the Bombay High Court, which was upheld by the same court in the case of the Parsi Lying-In Hospital – that the decision of the majority is binding on the minority. In fact, till it was convenient, it was a clause that Dinshaw Mehta used to quote all the time! But, now that his son is suddenly in the disruptive minority, he is singing a different song. This is a common trait with the Mehtas – they blow where the wind blows – there is never consistency in their thinking, beliefs or loyalty.