Jai Mahal case: Big win for Gayatri Devi’s heirs! NCLT restores hotel ownership to her grandchildren

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New Delhi | Published: August 2, 2018 1:51:18 PM

Jai Mahal Hotel (Image: tajhotels.com)

Grandchildren of late Maharani Gayatri Devi have won the control of Jaipur-based iconic property Jai Mahal Hotel as the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has restored their majority holding in the company which controls the erstwhile royal palace. Allowing the petition of Gayatrai Devi’s grandchildren — Maharaja Devraj and Rajkumari Lalitya Kumar, children of Late Maharaja Jagat Singha — the Delhi bench of NCLT said that they have been “constantly denied” 99 per cent of the paid up capital of the Jai Mahal hotel owned by their father.

The tribunal has “restored the position ante immediately upon the death of late Maharaja Jagat Singh” in terms of strength and directors of the board of Jai Mahal Hotel Ltd. Moreover, the tribunal in its 82-page-long order has also observed that their (Devraj and Lalitya) majority shareholding having been converted into a minority by the “overt and covert acts” of the respondents, which includes Gayatri Devi’s step son Maharaja Prithvi Raj and his son Rajkumar Vijit Singh.

A single member bench of NCLT Member Judicial R Varadharajan has set aside the resolution of the extraordinary general meeting of the Jai Mahal Hotel Pvt Ltd held in March 1999 and March 2001 regarding appointments on board and dilution of their stake. “All the resolutions, which have been passed in relation to the increase in the authorises share capital of Hotel Jai Mahal in the board meeting and or in the EGM dated March 27, 2001 are set aside,” the tribunal said.

It further observed: “The tribunal is of the considered view that the company’s affairs in relation to the petitioners (Devraj and Lalitya) have been conducted in an oppressive manner by respondents.” The tribunal restored the position ante March 27, 2001 in terms of authorised share capital of the company and said “any form filed in this regard with the ROC, NCT of Delhi & Haryana shall also stand cancelled”.

It also ordered the company, to rectify its register of members reflecting the status que ante prior to allotment of 60,882 equity shares as its paid up equity capital. “All the resolutions passed either in the board meeting held on April 4, 2001 in relation to the resolution allotting additional capital of Hotel Jai Mahal to R2 (Prithvi Raj) and R3 (Vijit Singh) aggregating to 60,882 equity shares of Rs 100 each are set aside,” the tribunal said.

NCLT has also directed that the board of the company “shall be reconstituted with R2 and R3 along with three nominees to the board to be appointed by the petitioners within a period of four weeks from the day of this order.” Maharaja Devraj and Rajkumari Lalitya Kumar had filed the petition in 2006 (in then the CLB) against the company and its directors, challenging the wrongful dilution of their shareholding from 99 per cent to 6 per cent by allotment of shares to Maharaj Prithviraj, who is the step uncle of the grandchildren, and to his son Vijit Singh.

The grandchildren had earlier won the battle for transmission of their father’s shares in their names from the Supreme Court in 2015. Spread over around 18 acres, Jai Mahal – 260 years old royal palace — had been converted into a Heritage hotel and is managed by the Taj group of hotels.

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