Calcutta HC issues notice to three MP Birla Group companies to appear before court

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June 11, 2020 7:04 AM

Commenting on the Calcutta High Court’s order dated June 8, Debanjan Mandal, partner of Fox & Mandal, the solicitor firm representing the Lodhas, said, “This development is not something which deserves comment. The companies will surely take action in respect of such notices as would be legally appropriate.”

The legal tussle began after the July 13, 1982 mutual wills that gave away all the assets to charities but another will of April 18, 1999 gave them to Rajendra Lodha.

After the Supreme Court stated that the probate court will hear the MP Birla Group companies afresh and decide various issues including the jurisdiction issue raised by the Lodhas, the Calcutta High Court has issued a notice to the three group companies, Birla Corporation, Birla Cable and Vindhya Telelinks, to appear before it.

Earlier, on May 11, a Supreme Court bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud had asked the probate court to hear the MP Birla Group companies afresh, upholding the Calcutta High Court’s order that allowed Harsh Vardhan Lodha’s reinstatement as director of the companies with remuneration.

Commenting on the June 8 order passed by justice Sahidullah Munshi of the Calcutta High Court, a Birla spokesperson said, “The direction for issuance of notice to the companies by the Calcutta High Court paves way for passing of further directions to the companies for preservation and protection of the control of Estate of Late Priyamvada Devi Birla over the MP Birla Group.”

The spokesperson further said, “On May 4, 2020 the division bench of the Calcutta High Court at the instance of these very companies allowed them to publish the results of resolutions taken up at the recent AGMs. While doing so, the division bench in a landmark move directed the Learned Single Judge to hear the said companies in deciding the issue of directorship of Harsh Vardhan Lodha and other issues pending before it relating to control over MP Birla Group companies. The order dated May 4 was upheld by the Supreme Court with several caveats and additional protections to the Birlas.”

Commenting on the Calcutta High Court’s order dated June 8, Debanjan Mandal, partner of Fox & Mandal, the solicitor firm representing the Lodhas, said, “This development is not something which deserves comment. The companies will surely take action in respect of such notices as would be legally appropriate.”

The genesis of the 16-year-old legal row between the Birlas and the Lodhas over controlling the over `5,000 crore-Birla Estate lies in the contested will of late Priyamvada Devi Birla, the widow of MP Birla, which was executed in July 1982 after the purported will allegedly transferred the shares of the MP Birla Group, collectively called as the Birla Estate, in favour of Rajendra Singh Lodha.

The legal tussle began after the July 13, 1982 mutual wills that gave away all the assets to charities but another will of April 18, 1999 gave them to Rajendra Lodha, now being pursued by his son Harsh Lodha, and other heirs.

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