Supreme Court refuses to interfere with High Court’s order dismissing contempt pleas against Lodha

By: |
July 13, 2021 8:24 AM

Monday’s order allows Lodha to continue as chairman of all the MP Birla Group firms till the HC finally decides the issue.

Harsh Vardhan Lodha, Supreme Court, MP Birla GroupThe two-decade legal battle between Birlas and the Lodhas over the control of the Rs 5,000-crore Birla Estate lies in the contested Will of late Priyamvada Devi Birla.

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to interfere with the Calcutta High Court order that dismissed contempt petitions filed against Harsh Vardhan Lodha for continuing as a director and chairman in the MP Birla Group companies.

Monday’s order allows Lodha to continue as chairman of all the MP Birla Group firms till the HC finally decides the issue.

A bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud, while refusing to entertain the appeal on behalf of the Birla group, asked the HC to dispose of the case expeditiously by March 31, 2022. The apex court also clarified that the HC shall not get influenced by any observation in exercise of its contempt jurisdiction.

“The Monday’s verdict demolishes the charges of contempt of court brought against Lodha for not stepping down as the chairman,” Debanjan Mandal, partner, Fox & Mandal, said in a press statement. “The verdict vindicates our faith in the judiciary as we continue to neutralise repeated attempts to disrupt the functioning of MP Birla Group companies,” he added

Challenging the HC’s division bench order of April 22 that dismissed its contempt petitions against Lodha, senior counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for Arvind Kumar Newar (Birlas), said Lodha continued to act as director of these companies and chaired board meetings of Birla Corporation and the listed cable companies — Universal Cables, Vindhya Telelinks, and Birla Cable despite single judge restraining him to do so.

Senior counsel Darius Khambata told the SC that Lodha remained chairman of all MP Birla Group companies and chaired all board meetings because he was reappointed in all with a vast majority of at least 97.98% of votes in his favour.

The two-decade legal battle between Birlas and the Lodhas over the control of the Rs 5,000-crore Birla Estate lies in the contested Will of late Priyamvada Devi 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 father of Harsh Vardhan. The legal tussle began after the July 1982 wills that gave away all the assets to charities but another will of April 18, 1999, gave them to Rajendra Singh Lodha, now being pursued by his son Harsh Vardhan Lodha, and other heirs.

 

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