IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY ORDINARY ORIGINAL CIVIL JURISDICTION
IN ITS INHERENT AND EXTRAORDINARY JURISDICTION MISCELLANEOUS PETITION NO. (L) 29493 OF 2021
In the matter of Scheme for the Election of the Trustees of the Funds and Immovable Properties of the Parsi Punchayet Bombay (“Scheme”).
In the matter of amendments to the Scheme.
- Mrs. Armaity Rustom Tirandaz )
- Viraf Dinshaw Mehta )
- Xerxes Vispi Dastur ) … Petitioners
- The Charity Commissioner )
- Noshir Homi Dadrawala )
- Kersi Jamshed Randeria ) … Respondents
In supersession of the Public Notice dated 22nd January 2022, and pursuant to the Orders of this Hon’ble Court dated 1st February and 3rd February, 2022 all members of the Parsee/Irani Zoroastrian Community are hereby informed that the Petitioner and Respondent Trustees of the BPP, Bombay, have proposed further amendments to the Scheme for the Election of the Trustees of BPP, in addition to amendments notified in the Public Notice dated 22nd January 2022.
Accordingly, the Bombay High Court, by its order dated 4th February 2022, has directed a fresh public notice to be re-issued.
The following is a gist of the proposed main and substantive amendments to the Scheme proposed by the Trustees:
1. A detailed election Code of Conduct (CoC) will be mandatorily applicable to all Trustee elections; its material breach may result in disqualification of a candidate / trustee. A copy of the CoC is annexed to the link below.
2. Election security deposit amount increased to Rs. 25,000/-. Any candidate that fails to secure 10% of the valid votes cast at such election shall have his Deposit forfeited.
3. The minimum age to stand as Trustee has been increased to 30 years.
4. The High Court to appoint an independent Election Commissioner and five Assistant Election Commissioners, for each election to oversee, supervise, conduct, and decide all matters, relating to a Trustee election, , whose term will expire 6 months after the completion of the election process. The Election Commissioners shall follow principles of natural justice.
5. Voting shall be done by Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) having a paper trail (VVPAT machines)*
[*Chairperson Mrs. Tirandaz and Trustee Mr. Viraf Mehta are not in agreement with the above and have proposed elections by paper secret ballot with counting directly at each center]
7. Definition of a ‘ “Parsi” subject to any decision of the Supreme Court of India, means:
- a Parsi descended from the original Persian emigrants and born of both Zoroastrian parents, professing the Zoroastrian-religion;
- an Irani from Iran, professing the Zoroastrian religion, coming to India either temporarily or permanently;
- a child of Parsi father by alien mother, duly admitted to the Zoroastrian religion.
7. Term of office of a Trustee shall be 5 (five) years; and no Parsi can be a Trustee for more than 10 years, during his lifetime. This is a Term Limit. A Trustee, elected at a mid-term election, will hold office for the remaining term of the Trustee whose vacancy, resulted in such mid-term election. The period served by a Trustee elected to fill in a mid-term vacancy will constitute one (1) Term However, if any mid-term election is to be held in the last 12 months of the term than the candidate elected will have the option of two more full five-year terms and this short period served will not constitute one (1) Term.
8. Eligibility criteria to be a Trustee includes that he must be a (a) citizen of India and (b) resident of India.
9. Resignation of a Trustee, once received, cannot be withdrawn, by him.
10. Trustees may, unanimously, appoint any qualified person as an independent external advisor, to advise the Trustees.
11. Amendments to the Scheme may be proposed either by the Trustees or upon a requisition signed by at least 1000 Parsis.
12. Only donors giving a donation of Rs. 10 lakhs or more to be admitted to the Donor Register and such Donors will have one (1) vote that will be counted as two (2) votes at any election. Persons whose names are on the Donor Register will continue to exercise the right of one (1) vote that will be counted as two (2) votes.
13. All decisions for alienation of immovable property will be taken by a simple majority of Trustees and will require permissions of the Charity Commissioner. By way of additional safeguards, if permission of the Charity Commissioner is granted, the same will not be acted upon for 4 weeks to enable any aggrieved person having locus standi to challenge the same. Decisions to alienate immovable property will also be advertised in Parsi Media so as to enable members of the community to object before the Charity Commissioner.
14. Trustees will be required to take important decisions such as removing persons from the Register or holding that a Trustee has vacated office by following principles of natural justice.
15. Trustees of the BPP who by virtue of such position are appointed ex officio trustees of any other Parsi trust will automatically vacate that position if they cease to be trustees of the BPP.
16. Unless it is not possible, the venues of the elections shall be:
- Cusrow Baug
- Kharegat Colony
- Rustom Baug
- Dadar Parsi Colony
- Bharucha Baug
17. The candidature form will mandatorily require the following details to be provided by the candidate:
- Name of the candidate;
- The names and signatures of the proposer and seconder of such candidate;
- Biodata of the candidate;
- Signature of the candidate before a Notary Public;
- Any pending disputes with the Trust (which, it is clarified, is not a circumstance of ineligibility or disqualification from contesting elections)
18. The counting of all votes cast shall be undertaken immediately after the election and shall be completed on the same date. The result of the Election will also be declared on the same day. The votes from each voting centre will be counted at that respective centre by an Election Commissioner in the presence of the candidate or his/her representatives.
19. All costs of litigation for disputes among and between (inter se) the Trustees shall be borne by the Trustees and not by the Trust, subject to orders of the Court.
20. Such other consequential amendments as are necessitated by the above amendments.
The above Petition has been peremptorily fixed for hearing before the Division Bench of the Bombay High Court comprising of Hon’ble Justice Mr. S. J. Kathawalla and Hon’ble Justice Mr. M. Jadhav on February 22nd, 2022 by way of video conferencing or physical hearing or hybrid as per the SOPs prevalent on such date. A link to attend the VC/hybrid hearing will be available on the website of the Bombay High Court (www.bombayhighcourt.nic.in).
Any member of the community who desires to be heard in respect of the proposed amendments to the Election Scheme, may be heard thereon either in person or through a duly appointed Counsel/Advocate before the Hon’ble High Court after filing a statement in writing and signed or an affidavit setting out his/her views and objections, if any. Such application / affidavit shall be filed with DSK Legal, either in writing or by email, whose details are given below. The affidavit / application must include the name and the complete contact details of the applicant. All such applicants need to be present for the hearing either in person or through a duly appointed counsel / advocate, failing which their objections will not be considered.
A copy of the above Miscellaneous Petition, the further amendments proposed and the Code of Conduct may be obtained between 11.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. on any working day against payment of necessary charges of Rs. 100/- per petition copy from the office of
C-16, Dhanraj Mahal, 3rdFloor, Apollo Bunder, Colaba, Mumbai – 400001, India Nirav.Shah@dsklegal.com
Alternatively, the Miscellaneous Petition, such further amendment and the Code of Conduct may be downloaded by accessing the following link: https://dsklegal-my.sharepoint.com/:f:/p/zaid_mansuri/EoBBdeG6tPVMnw3-Ka_NeeQB-vFNp98O1MYAEfAhT4gjOw?e=As28r5
Dated this 5th day of February 2022.
(Mr. Aspi Sarkari, CEO)
On BEHALF OF THE TRUSTEES OF THE PARSI PUNCHAYET, BOMBAY
209 DR. D.N.Road, Fort Mumbai 400 001.