Will History (2014-15) Repeat Itself?

Not too long ago the community rejoiced when an almost two year long stay order on allotment of housing to members of the community was lifted, thanks to the efforts of the new BPP Board Trustees – Desai, Dadrawala, Bhathena and Randeria. A little known fact is that even after the new Trustees approached the Charity Commissioner (CC) requesting him to lift the stay order, both – ex-BPP Chairman Dinshaw Mehta (in person) and Trustee-in-absence, Munchi Cama (through his advocate), vehemently opposed this request. However, the CC decided to accept the plea of the new Trustees and the stay order was lifted.

The community rejoiced. The first six months saw the new Board working dedicatedly in the interest of the community – allotting 65 flats within the first six months of their working, compared to the last Board’s sorry stats of allotting 75 flats in seven years.

But, as they say, all good things come to an end, and once again the community finds itself at the receiving end of the unending battles within the BPP, triggered allegedly by external hands. Even as all sides inexhaustibly harp on about their legal rights, petty reasons and myopic visions of right and wrong, the greater good of the community yet again is lost amidst a flurry of whatsapp messages and social media misuse.

Parsi Times has gone beyond the words and the huffing and puffing of our Trustees, and is putting before the community details of the recent happenings – chronologically, as per the documents available with us. We do not intend to join the ‘tu-tu-main-main’ blame game and disrespect the time or intelligence of our readers.

Fact File:
The 2013 cash payments controversy resurfaced a month ago; allegedly fresh evidence was now available and put forward before the press by the complainant ex-Trustee Khojeste Mistree and some of the present Trustees. When asked why this old issue was being raked up, the facts that emerge add up thus: Musharaf (main tenant in the Dady Building Controversy) approached BPP and requested the new Board execute his pending tenancy agreement as he had already made the full payment. All six Trustees accepted this and passed a resolution to this effect. Musharaf was called the next day and asked to clear his outstanding dues, which he did. A rent receipt was issued to him and he was asked to withdraw the case that he had filed against the BPP. This too was done. All this was as per the resolution passed unanimously by all six Trustees. However the records show that when the agreement was to be signed, five of the Trustees, including Armaity Tirandaz, signed it. Only Viraf Mehta did not. Subsequently, the records show that Tirandaz decided to withdraw her signature and the remaining four Trustees signed a fresh agreement.

So how does this solitary issue turn into a major stumbling block for the community?
The allegations, whatsapp messages and audio recordings that followed these events seem to indicate that Musharaf had become a key player in this saga of an alleged cash transaction by the ex-Chairman Dinshaw Mehta. Apparently the signing of the tenancy agreement is the carrot or the stick (depends on which side of the fence you are looking from) which can prove or disprove this allegation made by Khojeste Mistree against Dinshaw Mehta. The anonymous whatsapp messages attaching clips of an alleged meeting between Dinshaw, Viraf and Musharaf at Musharaf’s house appears to be the straw that will break the proverbial back of the camel.

Whether there is any link between this alleged cash transaction and the subsequent events, which are threatening the functioning of the BPP, once again, remains to be seen…

On the 25th of July 2016, Trustee-in-absentia, Munchi Cama, through his lawyers, sent a notice to different offices of the Registrar of Documents requesting that no documents (tenancy, L&L, etc) should be registered without his signature. This attempt, if successful, will not just stop the execution of the Musharaf tenancy agreement, but will effectively stall all housing allotment agreements – unless he had also signed them, as the ‘seventh’ Trustee.

On the very same day, Viraf Mehta and Armaity Tirandaz also wrote a letter to various offices of the Registrar calling upon them not to register the Musharaf tenancy agreement, claiming that “all the facts” were not informed to them. It is not specified in the letter as to who was supposed to “inform”  them as Armaity Tirandaz is herself a continuing Trustee, and closely involved in this
transaction. This letter also called upon the office of the sub-registrar not to execute even L&L agreements unless signed by all seven Trustees. (It is relevant to note that both the letters/notices are written on the very same day and thus neither can be said to be a ‘response’ to the other.)

Clarifications issued by both Viraf and Armaity alleged that they tried ‘very hard’ to convince the other four Trustees to ‘consider’ Munchi’s letter/notice, which the four Trustees refused. How such a claim can be justified, in keeping with the fact that both sets of letters were written on the very same day, is beyond logic and understanding.

Two days later, on the 27th of July 2016, Viraf and Armaity sent a legal notice to the various offices of the Registrar, threatening to take legal action if they registered any document without the signature of seven Trustees (including L&L Agreements). Two interesting facts that emerge from the perusal of these three documents: 1) Viraf and Armaity did not mark or send copies of their letter of 25-7-16 or their legal notice of 27-7-16 to the other four Trustees; and 2) Even though the copy of the notice sent by Cama’s lawyers on the 25th of July to the Punchayet was not received by any of the Trustees, the legal notice sent by Viraf and Armaity just two days later, records the fact that Cama’s lawyers have sent the office of the Registrar a legal notice!

This was not to be the end of the sordid saga. As reported by PT in its breaking news column last week, Cama has now filed a case before the Charity Commissioner wherein he has prayed that the present Trustees be stopped by an order of injunction from doing any work as Trustees. He has also filed an Originating Summons (OS) in the High Court where the prayers are more or less along the same grounds as in the application before the CC.

Cama, who resigned on the 12th of June 2105, appears to have decided to assert his views after a period of 13 months. There is probably no connection to the Musharaf case (although Cama’s notice and cases, if successful, will also help stall Musharaf’s documentation) but the timing could not have been more opportune for those who would want to stall Musharaf, just so that he can be bullied/cajoled into changing his statement. Cama’s resigned making serious allegations and calling upon the CC to appoint an administrator, an eventuality that has always worried the community given our vast properties, particularly the Doongerwadi lands.

One is forced to wonder about and question the timing of Cama’s “realization” that the BPP cannot and should not function without all seven Trustees. Even after the October elections, for almost nine months, Cama did not raise this issue. Immaterial of the adverse timing, today it is a serious threat to the present functioning of the BPP Trustees. And even though many may question the bonafides of the cases and the timing, no one can deny that Cama is an intelligent and honest man. He has often been looked upon as a person who enjoys a legal fight and one can safely say that this is going to be a long and a hard battle for the new Trustees, particularly the four who appear to be in the sights of the litigation, as the other two trustees Viraf and Armaity have already spoken on behalf of Cama. The three new Trustees, Dadrawala, Bhathena and Randeria are NOT a party to the change report case of Cama, which is before the Charity Commissioner. Only the Chairman Yazdi Desai is, as he was the reporting Trustee.

Whether Cama will succeed or not will determine whether the new Board will be able to continue the good work that they had started out to do. Whether intended or not, these challenges of Cama will play into the hands of the Mehtas, who allegedly have told Musharaf that they will ensure that his property will not be registered.

On 20th February, 2014, Cama along with Mehta and Tirandaz had written a letter to Musharaf’s lawyer stating that “they were willing to admit execution” and “register the same”. In fact the three of them in that letter have stated – “….that these three Trustees (Cama, Mehta, Tirandaz) have performed their duties as the landlords…” So what has changed? Is it that the new Trustees (who obviously could not know as much as the old Trustees of the last Board) did not disclose to Armaity Tirandaz (who was a Trustee at that time and thus obviously was in the know of ALL THE FACTS) and to Viraf Mehta (whose father is the main accused and who would probably be the one man who would know the facts better than any other person) all the facts as both these Trustees allege repeatedly? Or is it that the affidavits, the alleged video and audio recordings that are now doing the rounds, as alleged proof of cash transaction in the Dadi House matter, which is the issue – from which attention is sought to be diverted?

They say that truth always emerges from the ashes of lies even if it may take its own sweet time. Till then, the community will suffer. One can only hope that better sense prevails and the poor and needy of our community are not put through the same disappointment and hardship as they were recently subjected to.

Surely they deserve better?


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