The Charity Commissioner has issued a show-cause notice to all seven trustees of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet, one of Mumbai’s richest trusts, asking them why they should not be dismissed for blocking a probe into alleged financial irregularities.
The Punchayet has properties worth Rs 5,000 crore in Mumbai and controls some of the city’s most famous baugs like Cusrow Baug in Colaba and Rustom Baug in Byculla. It also allots houses to the poor in the community.
The commissioner has asked the trustees to give in their response on September 22. If they are dismissed, an administrator will be appointed to oversee the trust’s affairs till an inspection of the Punchayet’s accounts for the last ten years is complete.
Percy Patel, a Dadar resident, had asked the commissioner for a special audit in 2008. He had alleged that the trustees had mismanaged funds and questioned a 10-year lease given to a company for erecting hoardings at various locations, “arbitrary” purchase of construction materials without inviting tenders and favouritism in allotment of houses.
A probe in December 2008 by the commissioner’s accounts division revealed irregularities. The commissioner then appointed a firm to do a special audit of the last ten years’ accounts and fixed a fee of Rs 1.20 crore for it (0.9 per cent of the trust’s annual income of Rs 12 crore).
However, when the auditors visited the Punchayet’s office on August 5 this year, they were allegedly shown the door.
Dinshaw Mehta, chairman, Parsi Punchayet Funds and Properties, said, ““We are not opposed to the audit. Our objection is that since we are a charitable trust, we should not be charged such exorbitant fees.”