The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Lodha ducks Birla hit

Calcutta, May 19: The battle between the Birlas and Rajendra S. Lodha resumed in dramatic fashion today as quick blows were exchanged by the two sides through court orders.

First, the Calcutta High Court bench of Justice Kalyan Jyoti Sengupta appointed four administrators to take charge of the companies of the late Priyamvada Birla, now in Lodha’s control.

Fifty minutes later, and five minutes after the court closes at 4.15pm, a division bench issued a stay.

The stay allowed Lodha to continue to act as chairman and director of the companies till the time he appeals against the appointment of administrators. Justice Sengupta had restrained Lodha from performing this function till appeal.

The stay came just in time as the court closes for summer vacation for two weeks from tomorrow.

It did not give the Birlas time to even savour their victory. The family is locked in a battle for the legacy of M.P. Birla, whose widow Priyamvada left all assets to Lodha according to a contested will.

Within 15 minutes of the order appointing administrators, the Lodha counsel scurried to the division bench of Justices Pinaki Ghosh and Tapan Dutta, who gave the stay in just over 35 minutes.

After the fast-paced courtroom drama on a steamy summer afternoon, both sides claimed victory.

Speaking for the family, S.K. Birla said the order on administrators had vindicated their contention that the MP Birla assets were meant for charity.

Debanjan Mandal of Fox & Mondal, the counsel for Lodha, said Lodha would continue to be chairman and director of MP Birla companies.

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