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Wadia’s bid to appoint his two sons as permanent trustees at MES trust rejected

The commissioner NV Jagtap also turned down Wadia’s proposal to appoint his sons Ness and Jehangir as permanent trustees, saying this would not be proper in a democratic set up and a balance should be struck between management and teaching community with regard to their representation in the trust.

pune Updated: Oct 13, 2018 14:47 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,Industrialist,Wadia
Nusli N Wadia. (HT PHOTO)

In a setback to industrialist Nusli Wadia, the Pune deputy charity commissioner has rejected his plea to take complete control of Maharashtra education trust (MES) by becoming its first permanent chief trustee. The Hindustan Times is in possession of the copy of the said order issued by the deputy charity commissioner.

MES runs seven educational campuses in Mumbai and Pune, including DG Ruparel College in Matunga and New Law College in Dadar, and also owns their lands. A 21-acre plot in Wagholi is also part of its landholdings. The value of these properties runs into hundreds of crores.

The commissioner NV Jagtap also turned down Wadia’s proposal to appoint his sons Ness and Jehangir as permanent trustees, saying this would not be proper in a democratic set up and a balance should be struck between management and teaching community with regard to their representation in the trust.

Instead, Jagtap, in the order on Friday, ruled that the trust should have three members from the Wadia family, three others from teaching and non-teaching staff of MES and one independent member from the general public who has experience and eligibility to run the trust. He also ruled that the tenure of the trust should be five years or till electing a new board of trustees as per the scheme.

The order came on an application filed by Wadia seeking to adopt a scheme, which would reconstitute the constitution of MES on the ground that the old constitution was not authenticated.

The deputy charity commissioner removed clause 8 (b) in the scheme proposed by Wadia that sought to make Wadia and sons the chief permanent trustee and permanent trustees respectively. “Considering clause 8 (b) it is seen that the power of appointment of new trustees is only vested to permanent trustees i.e. Wadia family. Considering the history of MES from foundation till today, it is seen that the work of trusteeship is served by the Wadia family and serving teachers equally.

“There is no difference between trustees from Wadia family and other trustees. So, it is not proper to give permission to serve as permanent trustees to Wadia family members only. So, the board of trustees, the nature of trustees mentioned in paragraph 8 of the scheme is not proper as per my opinion because it is seen that due representation is not given to all.

“Hence, composition of trustee board mentioned in para 8 is not desirable and proper. So, I feel it is necessary to exclude clause 8 and 13 of the draft scheme filed by the applicant (Wadia) and substitute composition,” the order said.

“In the interest of the society, it is necessary to give representation to other persons also. So it is necessary to appoint seven new trustees as early as possible and all the persons concerned mentioned in the new scheme approved by this authority,” the order further said.

Advocate Waseem Pangarkar, Partner MZM Legal who represented MES said, “ It is a big setback to the Wadias who intended to obtain absolute control on MES. The deputy charity commissioner while rejecting Wadia’s plea of permanent and life trusteeship has clearly reasoned that a democratic set-up is only in the interest of education society.”

Earlier, Dilip Joag, the grandson of VK Joag, the founder of MES, had opposed the scheme proposed by Wadia to reconstitute MES, saying that over the years MES had acquired a large number of properties and set up educational institutions. He alleged that Wadia wants to usurp and gain control of these properties which are worth hundreds of crores, and oust prominent members. Joag had argued that merely because the existing constitution’s copy was not available with the charity commissioner’s office and merely because the existing constitution is being observed in breach by the trustees, it isn’t necessary to frame a new constitution.

First Published: Oct 13, 2018 14:46 IST