The J. J. Bhabha bungalow called Meherangir located at Malabar Hills was successfully sold by NCPA for Rs 372 crore after conclusion of a public auction on Wednesday as per the provisions of Bombay Public Trust Act, 1950.

As per request of the winning bidder, their identity was not disclosed by NCPA. The minimum reserve price for the bungalow was set at Rs 257 crore and the auction was held between three interested parties.

Dr. Jamshed Bhabha, under his last will and testament, bequeathed his estate, including Meherangir to the NCPA.

The proceeds from this auction will be used to help further the cause through modernisation of the theatres, up gradation of the equipment and expand the activities and thereafter fulfill the dreams and legacy of Dr Jamshed Bhabha, said the NCPA management in a press conference held in Mumbai.

"As India's premier cultural institution that is committed to serve the cause of the performing and allied arts, it is NCPA’s dictum to preserve and promote country's rich and vibrant heritage of Indian and international music, dance, theatre, film, literature and photography as well as presenting new and innovative work in the field of the performing arts," said a press statement issued by the NCPA.

NCPA inheritance

Clarifying its stand on the controversy NCPA said Dr Homi Bhabha was only a part owner of the property, along with his mother and his brother Dr Jamshed Bhaba, till his demise in 1966 and the property subsequently devolved solely upon Dr Jamshed who bequeathed it to the NCPA by his Will, which has since been probated.

"Following the specific instructions of Dr Jamshed Bhabha contained in his said Will, the NCPA has put up the property for sale, strictly following the process laid down in the Bombay Public Trust Act, and is hence auctioning the property. The Will made it very clear that the property apart from some small personal bequests was to devolve solely on the NCPA, a recognised charitable institution of national importance lovingly created by the late Dr Jamshed Bhabha, to endow it with sufficient funds solely for the furtherance of its objectives," said NCPA in a statement.

"The Will also directed that a suitable segment of his bequest be earmarked in his name at the NCPA. We have taken legal opinion of eminent counsel which confirms the correctness of the bid process followed by us. As this is a legal requirement, there is no question of bypassing this procedure," added THE NCPA statement.

Sale opposed

The sale faced opposition from some employees of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, who had demanded that the property be turned into a museum in Homi Bhabha’s memory.

A public interest litigation was filed but the Bombay High Court declined to stay the auction.

The controversy did lead to five potential bidders backing out, leaving only three in the fray. The court has now set June 23 as the date for the next hearing on the issue.

(This article was published on June 18, 2014)
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