Mumbai’s BJP MLA, Ashish Shelar has filed a PIL before the Bombay High Court to challenge a March 12, 2021 urban development department notification by which a Bandra plot – a Parsi Trust property – was being “drastically reduced,” for public use. He has sought judicial intervention to “prevent illegal siphoning of properties of Bai Avabai Petit Parsi Girls Orphanage for private gain”.
As per Shelar’s PIL, filed on February 24, the school was established in 1913 as a Parsi girls orphanage and converted into a cosmopolitan school for girls in 1963. The PIL seeks preservation of properties of the public charitable trust. Shelar said he filed the PIL for the cause of people residing in his constituency, “as due to the arbitrary and illegal actions on behalf of state authorities”, land reserved for the benefit of the public was being “illegally de-reserved and modified.”
The PIL said that in the sanctioned Development Plan for 2034, over 35,000 sq metres was reserved out of the property for ‘public purposes’, but in June 2016 the orphanage filed its objection to the reservation, leading to de-reservation of plots owned by it. The PIL claimed that the orphanage reportedly appointed a builder to exploit the plot’s development potential without taking ‘mandatory’ prior consent of the Charity Commission, before disposing of any public trust property.
The PIL has sought an order from the HC to direct the orphanage and the builder to not take any steps over the property and to the BMC to not process any application or grant any development permission and stay the March 2021 notification. As per the PIL, ‘The Charity Commissioner is the custodian of all properties and assets of a public trust under the Maharashtra Public Trust Act and has a duty to ensure that trust properties are not alienated until it is in the interest of the trust’.