Open Secret: Lodha Lawyers Deny Cover-up

Kolkata, July 26 | Updated: Jul 28 2004, 05:04am hrs
The battle over the late Mrs Priyamvada Birlas will got off to a false start in the high court here, but counsel for both sides continued the battle outside.

Khaitan & Co, the solicitors for the Birla clans, said that they were yet to be given a look at the original will of Mrs Birla, who had apparently left her late husbands empire to Mr RS Lodha, a chartered accountant who was co-chairman of the group.

Fox & Mandal, solicitors for Mr Lodha, promptly challenged this statement. Mr Debanjan Mandal, partner of Fox & Mandal, told reporters that they had already submitted the original unregistered copy of the will along with a registered photocopy to the Calcutta High Court for inspection by the Birlas counsel.

He also claimed that the will and other documents had been examined by the Birlas lawyers on July 23 for about 2-1/2 hours. The original will is now in safe custody, Mr Mandal said.

Earlier, Mr NG Khaitan, the legal advisor for the Birla family, told reporters that they are yet to get the original copy of the will for inspection.

He said that Fox & Mandal has submitted only a copy of the Will and not the original one. I really do not understand why they are hiding, he said. Mr Khaitan said altogether six members of the Birla family have so far filed caveats in different courts which would give them a chance to contest the Will.

They are Mr Basant Kumar Birla, Mr Krishna Kumar Birla, Mr Ganga Prasad Birla, Mr Yash Birla and two sisters of the late Madhav Prasad Birla Mrs Laxmi Devi Newar and Mrs Radha Mohta.

He said that he, on behalf of his clients, has already received intimation from Calcutta High Court about five caveats, except for the one filed by Mrs Mohta, who must have done so very recently.