Where is the Transparency? From BPP Trustree Armaity R Tirandaz

Armaity Rustom TirandazThe year 2016 is at an end, where is the Transparency?

Since the community is clamoring for transparency the following are clarifications and facts that I am penning down. Unfortunately, very few will read this, probably because it is very long or because I have a very small percentage of the community members who are on my Facebook page.
(1). As of today Mr. Viraf Mehta and I have been denied Final Minutes, Drafts of Minutes of meetings of the Board. The Majority trustees Mr. Yezdi Desai, Mr. Kersi Randeria, Mr. Noshir Dadarawala and Mr. Zarir Bhatena have given the BPP staff instructions that no information nor documents of any kind should be shared with the both Viraf and me. Assumptions, presumptions, irresponsible and unsubstantiated statements are meted out to the Parsi press and media by the majority trustees.
(2). Leave and License being signed and executed by majority, which may be detrimental in the long run.
So I will now elaborate on each of these and my point of view:
All trustees are elected representatives of the community who carry a heavy responsibility of the faith and trust of the beneficiaries of this Trust. All Trustees are one among equals including the Chairman, who’s roll is to preside over the meetings and has a casting vote. There is a Blatant misuse of this position and the power of the majority by denying trustee Viraf and me the information that is readily available to the majority.

In 2008 when Mr. Dadrawala was denied information by the then board of trustees, and he expressed himself through the following emails and I quote him.

>>“From: Noshir H. Dadrawala
Subject: Information
To: “Mehli Colah”
Date: Wednesday, May 13, 2009, 6:23 PM
“As an elected Trustee of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet, I have every right in law to request data and information concerning the trust and its affairs and activities and it is your duty as the CEO to furnish the requested details and not to enter into technicalities.” “
>>In an article which he had written: “So What If BPP Is Not A Listed Company???”

“If the Board is serious about accountability let them publish the Audited Accounts of the last 3 years on their website. It will cost them nothing, except losing their face. In particular there should be clear disclosure of how much BPP has splurged on needless litigations.
Every trustee talks about transparency and accountability. It reads well in every manifesto and sounds good at every election meeting. But once they walk into the BPP they claim that if too much information is given ‘it will be used against the BPP’. What they actually mean is ‘our linen is too dirty for us to hang out in the open to dry!’.” – Noshir Dadrawala

Today he himself is conveniently denying Viraf and me the same.
Mr. Dadrawala now states that Viraf is passing on information to his father who was the Ex-chairman. And I am being denied the same by the majority on the same illogical pretext. If Mr. Dadrawala were in my shoes today he would have said as he did in the past, “Enough is Enough” and “What are they trying to hide?”.

Why are they denying Viraf and me the summary of cheque’s that have been issued by the BPP. It is Mr. Dadrawala who has also mentioned in an email 16th July 2009, where he sighted that the Bombay High Court has made it clear that charity trust funds cannot be spent for defending the personal litigation of charged trustees. So I would like to ask him (when he says go to the courts to get your reliefs) if he would permit the other trustees including himself to spend the BPP monies on litigation, i.e. if Viraf and I were to move legal proceedings against the majority trustees to get reliefs at our costs.

I am and always was open to provide the kind of transparency that Mr. Dadrawala so vociferously speaks of in his above emails.
Mr. Yezdi Desai has instructed Mr. Rustom Lawyer, who on the 9th of August 2016 emailed Mr. Viraf Mehta telling him that he has been told not to share any Wadia Committee information with Viraf or myself.

Subsequently, a resolution has also been passed wherein the majority trustees have Unconditionally apologized to me about an article printed in the Parsi Times on behalf of the majority trustees by Mr. Yezdi Desai defaming me. I have yet not been provided a copy of this resolution when I requested it. Since I have prudently written it down here is what it Should state:

“The trustees further recognize that Mrs. Armaity Tirandaz has not been seen to have been in any manner which can be seen to be detrimental to the interest of the trust. Therefore the original reference to Mrs. Tirandaz stands withdrawn with apologies from the trustees”.
After the apology was recorded in this resolution, when I inquired with Mr. Kersi Randeria who dictated it, if this would be made public in the next press release of the Parsi Times, I was told that it was enough that a apology was recorded and by doing so that they had “played fair”. How is it fair to defame a fellow trustee and then to leave no recourse by denying minutes?.

Subsequently, at a Wadia committee meeting in the presence of Mr. Nusli Wadia, I had the same resolution as above cited. I also briefed Mr. Wadia of the instructions given by Mr. Desai with regards to sharing of the information and minutes, Mr. Wadia commented that he had no knowledge of it.
I can also understand the plight of the staff of the BPP who have been complying with the majority due to intimidation and fear.
Irresponsible statements made by Mr. Desai in the past with respect to disappearance of certain pertinent files, where he has publically accuse Ex-chairman Mr. Dinshaw Mehta of the same. On the 28th of December 2016, when a safe of the BPP was opened in the presence of all the Trustees and was videotaped for audit purposes, these very files including the Firozgar files have been found. Therefore, one must realize that the kind of information published in the press is questionable.

Since my last clarification on facebook, dated 30th August 2016, only a few minutes of meetings of the BPP have been passed. We have almost a year of minutes pending from January 2016 many of which have yet to be passed. The kind of transparency and governance that is being carried out by the majority is beyond my logical understanding. In my mind it is very clear that access to minutes and other information is readily available to the The Majority trustees.

A simple fact such as: The drafts of minutes are not shared, so how is anyone to remember the notations that each trustee has made. Without these drafts how is any trustee supposed to remember what objections were made or how a decision was arrived at, etc. Without these drafts how is anyone to ascertain the correctness, when the final minutes have to be passed almost after a year. To add insult to injury, the minutes once passed are currently being signed by the Chairman Mr. Desai only, that too only on the last page. With a BPP board where issues of good governance exist, atleast all trustees should sign each and every page of the Final minutes, so that there may be no question of misunderstandings in the future.

When I received a notice from Mr. Cama to the effect that Leave and Licenses cannot be executed without his signature as well. I had put it to the majority trustees that we needed to seek a legal opinion of a Senior Counsel before we move forward. This is something; I had clarified on my facebook page in my post dated 30th August 2016. Up until that point I have been party to executing all Leave and Licenses, so why would I need to suddenly stop?.

I would like to cite an email from Mr. Dadrawala.
>>From: “Noshir H. Dadrawala”
Date: 20 Aug 2009 7:47 p.m.
To: , “Arnavaz Mistry”, “Jimmy Mistry”, “Khojeste Mistry”, “Yazdi Desai”, “Armaity Tirandaz”, “Anahita Desai”, “Dinshaw Mehta”
Cc: “noshir dadrawala”
“ It is very satisfying to know that my e-mail has prompted our Chairman to seek legal opinion from a Senior Counsel presumably Mr. Aspi Chinoy, but it is equally regretted that I was not even informed, leave aside invited, for such an important conference on such a significant issue. Instead of showing documents attached to my e-mail, which according to our Chairman may not relate to the Godrej Baug land, the conference would have been meaningful if the right documents were placed before the counsel. The objective of the conference should not have been to prove me right or wrong but to ascertain the correct legal position so that all the present Trustees can take an independent informed decision. In any event it is imperative that we obtain a written opinion from the said Senior Counsel before embarking upon a project of the magnitude as discussed in the Chambers Meeting. “

“ Let me forewarn my colleagues that rushing to the Charity Commissioner’s office without legal advice would be suicidal for our Institution. I would rather that we suspend the construction activity till we obtain proper legal advice.”

“I sincerely request all of you to impress upon the Chairman to draft out a detailed case for opinion, get it approved by all of us and take written opinion of the Senior Counsel like Mr. Aspi Chinoy so that all of us can take informed decisions on the issues before us.”
Above are all of the same stands that I had taken on the issue of Leave and License, which went to deaf ears of the Majority including Mr. Dadrawala. Who himself stated on the board, that he is an expert on charity law and there was NO need for a legal opinion and completely dismissed my suggestion.

Thereafter, when the Majority Trustees visited the chambers of Mr. Dandiwalla, neither Viraf nor I were informed of this meeting (where a legal opinion was taken on this matter). Nor was there ever any detailed case of opinion given to me for an approval before it was sent to Mr. Dandiwalla.
Subsequently, on receiving an opinion from the office of Mr. Dandiwalla, Viraf and I wrote back to him sighting some of our concerns. We have not yet received any reply from his office.

We have also independently sought the opinion of Mr. K.K. Nariman, who has essentially informed the BPP trustees that it would be essential to have Mr. Cama signature taken for all legal matters until his matter is heard and disposed.

During my campaign a large number of community members felt as though the Leave and License was a sword lingering over their heads and voiced their concerns and fears. I was reassuring them at the time that it was currently the only way for us to ensure that we protect the Parsi only covinent and that they were in no danger. I would like to ask them now to consider this. If the Majority trustees are successful in executing Leave and Licenses as a majority without the consent of the other trustees and without their signatures, then they would be in a position to also terminate the Leave and License of anyone. This would become a precedent which would be detrimental to the trust in the long run.

Therefore, in future elections the community will have to vote for candidates who would be aligned to the majority, who would support each others views without independent thinking and action.

I have been called many things by some of the trustees including being a puppet, a yo-yoing trustee, a pigeon brained, etc… Yes unfortunately the language used on the board and in emails is quite flowery at times. I would like to state again as I have done so in the past, that I have only changed my stance on an issue when I have realized that all the facts were not brought to my notice or when they have been concealed from me. Are the majority trustees any different from what they claim me to be. I do not care for their petty squabbles as my social work goes on un-phased. These innuendos and the mockery of me has no effect, as I am grateful to the almighty for the mind and all else that he has given to me, I am answerable to him and my conscience.

I hope that justice and fair play prevails in the coming years over this heap of internal political turmoil. I pray that the community prospers and grows as it should and the dust settles soon.

Armaity Rustom Tirandaz