In a setback to former IPL chairman Lalit Modi, the Supreme Court on Monday refused to vacate stay on the arbitration proceedings initiated by him in Singapore over a property dispute with his mother Bina Modi and two siblings, Charu Bharti and Samir Modi.
However, the apex court asked Lalit to approach the Delhi High Court for seeking early hearing of the petition against an order of the division bench that stayed the arbitral proceedings.
While the single-judge bench of the HC had on March 3 dismissed pleas by Bina Modi, wife of late KK Modi, and her two other children against the initiation of arbitration proceedings in Singapore by her estranged son, the division bench on March 5 stayed the arbitration proceedings. The mother and two siblings are opposing the arbitral proceedings on the grounds that the trust matters cannot be settled through arbitration in a foreign country as per Indian laws and the dispute has to be resolved in Indian courts.
The apex court’s vacation bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and Surya Kant on Monday told senior advocate AM Singhvi, appearing for Lalit, to move the HC itself and seek an early hearing. As of now, the HC is scheduled to hear the case on March 27.
Lalit had moved the apex court against the division bench’s March 5 order that stayed the “emergency arbitration” conducted in Singapore by Emergency Arbitrator Matthew Secomb, who was appointed by the ICC Court of International Arbitration.
Lalit had invoked emergency measures under ICC Rules in February before the International Court of Arbitration of the ICC, which had determined Singapore as the place of arbitration on February 21.
The former IPL chairman said that the HC had stayed the arbitration without giving any reasons and also without hearing him. Lalit said that the Restated Trust Deed of April 9, 2014, which was executed in London, stipulated that the assets, businesses and investments contributed and settled into trust were liable to sale and distribution if no unanimity was reached over control and management of the KK Modi family controlled businesses within thirty days of demise of KK Modi.
Lalit contended that after the demise of his father on November 2, 2019, in view of lack of unanimity amongst the trustees, a sale of all assets of the trust has been triggered and distribution to beneficiaries has to occur within one year thereof. He further alleged that his mother had not only excluded him from all entitlements under the Trust Fund, but was also refusing to proceed with honouring the family arrangements.
The family controls Modi Enterprises and owns substantial stake in tobacco firm Godfrey Philip India, speciality chemical company Indofil Industries and a convenience store chain, among other assets.