Enraged by the fact that St Anne’s Church, Bandra, was forced to pay a sum of Rs 19 lakh from its reserves to the civic body in order to safeguard its land, residents and religious associations from across the city have joined hands against the church’s defaulting tenants.
“That they held the church at ransom for such a large sum of money is disturbing,” said Anandini Thakur, chairperson of the H-West ward citizens’ trust.
“If the Pandeys fail to meet their evacuation and payment deadline, we will carry out a demonstration against them and seek legal redressal. They must not misuse their celebrity status.”
The land, Xavierene Court, is a 4,000-sq ft plot in Bandra West that belongs to the church and has been leased to Deanne Pandey, who runs a celebrity gymnasium on the premises.
The Pandeys have defaulted on a total payment of Rs 38 lakh to the church in form of pending rent, BMC taxes and income tax.
Despite repeated calls and text messages, Deanne Pandey and her husband Chikki were unavailable for comment.
Aftab Siddiqui, chairperson of the Linking Road Citizens’ Forum, said the church should file a First Information Report against the Pandeys for defaulting on dues.
“Because the church is a non-profit body, it uses all its earnings for welfare activities. We don’t want the priests run pillar-to-post collecting money that is rightfully theirs,” said Siddiqui.
Reinforced by the support received from fellow activists, Anil Joseph, member of the Church’s property cell is willing to take strong action against the defaulters.
“I personally feel that we should charge them for fraud under section 420 along with protests and agitations,” said Joseph, who is planning the next course of action.
Dolphy D’Souza, president of the Bombay Catholic Sabha hopes to amicably solve the problems.
“This should never have happened in the first place. But if it does not get solved peacefully, we are geared up for any eventuality,” he said.