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HC restrains numismatist from auctioning coins

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The Bombay High Court restrained a numismatist (coin collector) from auctioning coins purchased by him and invoice in the name of Dinesh Mody Institute of Numismatics and Archaeology (DMINA).

A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice M S Sanklecha was hearing a petition filed by another numismatist Farokh Todywalla, who claims to have sold a part of his coin collection to Dinesh Mody at a low price, some of which are on the block now.

Mody, in 2005, had donated over 7,500 coins to the Mumbai University to set up a museum at its suburban Kalina campus. Dinyar Madon, counsel for the petitioner, argued that Mody continued to purchase several coins and invoiced them in the name of the museum in order to avoid 10-15 per cent service tax.

According to the petition, Mody is allegedly auctioning some of these coins on February 2 under a series named ‘The Wardhaman Collection of Indian Coins- Part I’. 409 coins have been put up for auction.

“If the coins are in the name of the museum, then that does not amount to his (Mody’s) private collection,” Madon argued.

The petition included a list of 45 coins, identified by him, as those which were invoiced in the museum’s name, but has been put up for auction.

Ashish Kamat, Mody’s counsel, refuted the claims that Mody had put up the museum’s coins for auction.

He alleged that the petitioner (Todywalla) belonged to the rival business house and have been aware of the auction since December 28, 2013. “The auction was in the know of concerned persons since last year. Then why has the petition been filed two days before the auction,” questioned Kamat.

Kamat further argued that the coins that have been put up for auction have been shown by Mody as his private collection in the Income Tax Returns filed by him.

Mody made a statement that he will not auction the 45 coins identified by the petitioner till the matter was settled.

However, the high court restrained him from auctioning any coin which has been invoiced in the museum’s name. The court has directed Mody to file a detailed affidavit in reply by February 26.

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