The first public salvo

At cross purposes

The first public salvo against the proposed cosmopolitan hospital in The B. D. Petit Parsee General Hospital (PGH) complex has been fired by lawyer Khushroo Zaiwala. In a letter/email dated November 15, 2017 to the chairman and managing director of the Medanta Group, Zaiwala termed the agreement signed with PGH to operate and manage the new cosmopolitan hospital to be set up "patently illegal,” "a fraud on charity,” and being "without the authority of law.” He also reiterated the sentiments of two trustees of the Bombay Parsi Punchayat (BPP), chairman Yazdi Desai and Kersi Randeria that the PGH managing committee that signed the agreement "are not the trustees of the said Hospital. The ownership...vests with the trustees of the BPP.”

Desai forwarded Zaiwala’s mail to Pervin and Jal Shroff of Hong Kong who replied, "It is not our intention to comment or respond” to the allegations but instead explain what prompted them to donate the amount of around Rs 150 crore (USD 22.5 million, probably the largest, single monetary gift in the history of the community). They noted in order to combat PGH’s mounting operational losses, a "long-term” viable solution was required, hence the "‘pledge’ to construct the New Hospital Building.” Medanta would "equip the Hospital Building” with state of the art equipment "at their expense” and "pay a percentage of their annual gross billable revenue” to PGH which would continue to function as a separate, Parsi-only Hospital.

Emails exchanged between the PGH chairman Homa Petit, Desai and Randeria indicated the two BPP trustees, were "very uncomfortable with the way things have panned out regarding this Project” and asked for the proposed signing with Medanta to be " allow the BPP trustees reasonable time to examine the agreement.” The signing, however, went ahead.

Petit explained a confidentiality clause prevented the managing committee from earlier disclosing the terms, but now the agreement had been signed the BPP trustees were welcome to examine all the documents. In an email to his co-trustees BPP trustee Viraf Mehta attributed the "sudden change in tune towards the said transaction seems to stem from the fact that you (Desai) or your nominees (Randeria) have not been allowed to join the PGH managing committee as members.” (For the full story on the email exchanges see, "Another stalemate?” Parsiana, November 21, 2017).

Photo: Artist's impression