Property dispute: Serve power of attorney to kin, Supreme Court tells Lalit Modi

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January 26, 2021 7:00 AM

Modi had invoked emergency measures under ICC Rules in February last year before the International Court of Arbitration of the ICC, which had determined Singapore as the place of arbitration.

Last year, the SC had refused to vacate the stay on the arbitration proceedings initiated by him in Singapore.Last year, the SC had refused to vacate the stay on the arbitration proceedings initiated by him in Singapore.

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the lawyers of former IPL chairman Lalit Modi to serve the power of attorney (PoA) that he executed for filing the appeal before it to the opposite parties in the property dispute case.

A bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan gave Modi a week to furnish the PoA to the parties involved in the case, including his mother Bina Modi, after her counsel Kapil Sibal raised objections, pointing out that “the PoA is not annexed. He (Lalit Modi) can not come to India being declared a fugitive. We want to know what kind of PoA has been used to file the petition. This is a crucial matter”.

Modi, who has been staying in London for past several years after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) started a probe against him in India over money laundering allegations, has challenged a Delhi High Court judgment that said it had the jurisdiction to decide his mother Bina Modi’s plea against the arbitration proceedings initiated by him in Singapore over a property dispute with her and two siblings, Charu Bharti and Samir Modi.

Last year, the SC had refused to vacate the stay on the arbitration proceedings initiated by him in Singapore. The mother and the two siblings are opposing the arbitral proceedings on the grounds that Trust matters cannot be settled through arbitration in a foreign country as per Indian laws.

Stating that “there is admittedly an arbitration clause in the Restated Trust Deed”, Lalit told the SC the disputes that have arisen after the death of the settler were not of the nature which cannot be settled by arbitration, and the Trust also owned immovable properties, and thus in the absence of the registration of the Restated Trust Deed, the provisions of the Indian Trusts Act 1882 do not apply.

Modi had invoked emergency measures under ICC Rules in February last year before the International Court of Arbitration of the ICC, which had determined Singapore as the place of arbitration.

He said 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 30 days of the demise of KK Modi.

He contended that after the demise of his father on November 2, 2019, in view of lack of unanimity among 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.

It is the arbitral tribunal that evidently lacks jurisdiction and not this court, which has the inherent jurisdiction to determine whether the disputes are arbitrable, the HC division bench had held on December 24, remanding the two civil suits to the single judge for further proceedings. The single judge had earlier on March 3 last year 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.

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