A Question Of Life And Death

Bhabha Sanatorium has often been in the news over the years. A few days ago, the ceiling of one of its kitchens collapsed, making this the second collapse in one year. The lives of the inmates of Bhabha Sanatorium, particularly a few families staying in one building, are at grave risk. And instead of rushing to the rescue to curtail this potential disaster, we find that once again, the infighting between the Trustees has put on hold any attempt to rehabilitate these families or move them to a safer premise.


When will things change? Are the Trustees’ egos bigger than the lives of our community members?

The Background: Many years ago, there were two sanatoriums for Parsis in Mumbai – the Petit Sanatorium (at Kemps Corner, South Bombay) and the Bhabha Sanatorium (at Band Stand, Bandra). The homeless members of the community moved between these two, every few months, till one day Petit Sanatorium shut its doors. As a result, occupants of both sanatoriums, had to stay put at their respective sanatoriums. Petit Sanatorium executed financial settlements with its occupants, helping them to relocate. But, the occupants of Bhabha Sanatorium got stuck inside.

Up until 2001, members of the Bhabha family managed the Trust. In August 2001, the then Trustees of the Bhabha Sanatorium appointed the then four BPP trustees – namely Silloo Kavarana, Dinshaw Mehta, Rustom Tirandaz and Dinshaw Tamboly – and then resigned after two months, thereby handing over the Trust effectively to the BPP.

These four Trustees, then through a resolution passed in June 2004, brought the remaining Trustees of the BPP on record. Thereafter, the seven BPP Trustees, through a Declaration which was signed and executed in December 2004, recorded that all Trustees of the BPP hereafter appointed, would automatically become Trustees of Bhabha Sanatorium, and would cease to be Trustees of Bhabha Sanatorium when their term as BPP Trustees came to an end.

And this is how it has been from 2004 – all outgoing BPP Trustees automatically ceased to be Trustees of Bhabha Sanatorium.

So what has changed now?

As a matter of procedure, all BPP Trustees whose terms get over, submit their resignations from all the smaller trusts, like Bhabha Sanatorium, Major Morina Trust, Davar Trust, etc.

In 2015, the new BPP Board took office amidst total chaos. The infighting and police cases between the then Trustees resulted in a Stay Order given by the Charity Commissioner (CC). The then CEO, late Mehli Colah, had passed away and the next in line, Cawas Panthaki had resigned.

In this chaotic scenario, the routine resignations were not taken from the outgoing Trustees. And thus when the Change Report was filed by the new BPP Board before the CC to bring them on record as Trustees of Bhabha, it was not accepted as the resignations of the past Trustees were not attached. As of now, only one Trustee has continued to refuse giving in his resignation – Dinshaw Mehta. It seems he wants to be a trustee for life! He is also using this technical issue to keep the present BPP Trustees out… which, for the record, includes his son, Viraf Mehta.

Not to forget, that he is one of the seven signatories to the 2004 Declaration, which clearly states that the BPP Trustees will automatically and ipso facto cease to be a trustee of Bhabha Sanatorium once he or she ceases to be a Trustee of BPP!

For all practical purposes, if a legal challenge is raised to Dinshaw Mehta’s current stance, the Bhabha Sanatorium issue will get even more complicated and mired in controversy. One of the main reasons why outgoing trustees would prefer to stay on as trustees for life could be that the Bhabha Sanatorium property is probably worth a thousand crores, in keeping with both – its gigantic area as well as its location – considered Mumbai’s leading prime properties, on Bandra’s prized Band Stand area, overlooking the sea, right next to Shahrukh Khan’s bungalow. The huge property comprises two palatial, heritage buildings and one newly constructed residential building. This could surely be a large part of the cause why trustees refuse to leave, even after their term is over, so as to continue nurturing their personal gains and vested interests, as opposed to community welfare or charity.

In this game of ‘I-am / You-are-not’ that is currently being played out between Dinshaw Mehta and the current Board of BPP Trustees, the lives and properties of the occupants of Bhabha Sanatorium are being held ransom. God forbid, should something serious or unfortunate happen in Bhabha Sanatorium, in addition to any physical/mortal tragedies, the Community will be subject to witness finger-pointing of the worst kind.

But that is not how it should be.


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