As of the 15th of December, 2016, 11 hearings have been held and the number of questions asked on cross examination stand at 139! As of yesterday, the 16th of December, 2016, 12 sessions of cross-examination of Yazdi Desai by Dinshaw Mehta’s lawyer were completed and the number of questions asked so far is 161!! What does this mean? Is the Counsel for Mehta being thorough or is this the game plan meant to harass the BPP Chairman and force him to miss work and come to the office of the CC daily? Are these legal battles or planned indirect delays? Cama has moved the High Court asking that the hearing be expedited. Trustees Viraf Mehta and Armaity Tirandaz are supporting Cama, who is asking for an injunction against the BPP Trustees, both in the CC’s office and the High court, to stop them from working!
So in effect, Viraf and Armaity are supporting the prayers of Cama against themselves and are telling the Courts that they should be stopped from working! Dinshaw Mehta’s counsel has asked 161 questions over 12 hearings as his cross-examination. He fully intends to continue for some more time. After that, Cama’s counsel will start! And God knows how many questions he may have! Is this expedited hearing or harassment?
Only time will tell.
For a while now, the community has been bearing the brunt of the ongoing Munchi Cama case which seeks to bring a grinding halt to the execution of all community welfare endeavours by the BPP. Munchi Cama was elected as BPP Trustee in mid-2011. He tendered his resignation on 12th June, 2015. The majority of Trustees present in the Board meeting of 16th June, 2015 meeting accepted it. Cama, through an email, offered to withdraw it if there were any technical issues involved. BPP Chairman Yazdi Desai sent an e-mail stating that the resignation had already been accepted. Cama replied saying thank you and asked to be sent a copy of the Change Report. Yazdi Desai filed the Change Report. BPP’s (now) Ex-Chairman, Dinshaw Mehta, filed an objection. Cama filed his reply only 5 months later, in November 2015 – he was obviously in no hurry at that time. Both sides – Desai as the reporting Trustee on one side and the Mehta-Cama combine on the other, are relying on their own versions of the facts. The case has to be decided only on the basis of documents as well as oral evidence. This is bound to take a while. Almost a year later, Munchi moved the High Court asking that the Trustees of the BPP be stopped from doing any charitable, financial or administrative work. In court, his counsel argued that the Change Report hearings were deliberately delayed to keep Munchi out of the Board Room. The High Court expedited the Hearing asking the Charity Commissioner (CC) to complete the same within 6 weeks. This did not happen. The High Court has now extended the same by another 8 weeks – by the end of January, 2017.
The matter is now being heard almost on a daily basis. Desai, who is the Jt. Managing Director of a large company employing over 7,500 employees, was forced to miss one hearing due to an urgent and unavoidable professional commitment. The Mehta-Cama combine asked that the Court fine them Rs. 25,000. (Interestingly, in another matter, which was also initially expedited by the High Court, the Counsel for Cama did not turn up on two occasions, but requested that no cost be imposed – and the other side did not press). The CC awarded costs of Rs. 5,000, which was paid by Yazdi Desai.
From day one, the community has observed the effort to bring the working of the BPP to a standstill, especially the prevention of the registration of Leave and Licence documents, by Cama on the one hand and the Viraf Mehta-Armaity Tirandaz combination on the other hand… one often wondered about the possibility of a collusion. The first salvo was fired when Cama wrote to the Registrar asking that documents must not be registered unless signed by all seven Trustees. Viraf Mehta has gone on record, both through his written statements and oral comments, claiming that the Mehta-Tirandaz combo “pleaded with their colleague Trustees” to get an opinion on this issue for a long time before they decided to support Cama. But this is far from the truth, as the first correspondence by this duo was on the very same day as Cama’s letter – proving that the often proclaimed claims of “requesting” their colleagues is a dishonest representation of the facts
The Mehta-Cama combine triggered off a whatsapp spree claiming victory, till Yazdi’s wife, Anahita Desai, put out her own WhatsApp message sharing certain details, which can, at best, be described as mind boggling:“Munchi Cama’s Resignation Case Update: Yesterday was the Hearing for Munchi Cama’s resignation case. Yazdi Desai’s cross examination is ongoing – in spite of being a working Company Director Yazdi has fully co-operated and patiently sat through 10 hearings of about 2 hrs each and answered over 123 questions. Yesterday, Yazdi was unable to attend as he had to take an exam for a certified course on Corporate Governance Professional, by the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Govt. of India. Our advocate informed the opposite side (Munchi and Dinshaw’s) advocates a day in advance so that their legal team would not be inconvenienced and unnecessarily come for the hearing. However, for reasons best known to them, they all turned up, including Dinshaw Mehta, and pressurised the Charity Commissioner to impose a fine of Rs. 25000 on Yazdi. However, the CC imposed a fine of only Rs.5000. Today is the next hearing at 2:30 pm. We have also filed an application saying that the opposite side (Munchi and Dinshaw) lawyers are purposely stretching Yazdi’s cross examination to harass and inconvenience him. Only Dinshaw’s lawyer is yet cross examing Yazdi and has already asked 123 questions and has informed the Court that he wants to ask 15 more questions to “make out his case”, thereby unwittingly admitting that the 123 questions already asked by him are irrelevant and time pass! Munchi’s lawyer is yet to cross examine Yazdi.”
Which brings us right back to the same question, is this expedited hearing or harassment? When will these delay tactics end? And how long will these legalities keep eating into the BPP’s time, effort and money – which were pledged towards the betterment of the community?
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