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Setback to Birla trio in will war
- Only GP can contest Lodha’s claim: Court
Lodha gains

BK, KK and Yash Birla can’t contest Priyamvada Birla’s 1999 will

R.S. Lodha can contest MP Birla’s 1982 will

Birla gains

G.P. Birla can contest Priyamvada Birla’s 1999 will

Yash Birla accepted as
an executor of MP Birla’s 1982 will

Lodha has filed for probate of the 1999 will, while the Birla family is trying to get the court to accept the mutual, but separate, wills of MP and Priyamvada Birla of 1982

Calcutta, Dec. 21: Basant Kumar Birla cannot contest Rajendra Singh Lodha’s claim to the estate of M.P. Birla for some time.

A division bench of Calcutta High Court, comprising Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Justice Tapan Kumar Dutta, dismissed his appeal to challenge M.P. Birla’s widow Priyamvada’s will, executed in 1999, when it comes up for probate, or legal authentication.

Two other Birlas — Krishna Kant and Yashovardhan — will also have to sit out the legal battle for the time being. The court held that only G.P. Birla, an executor of the will Priyamvada drew up in 1982, had the right to contest Lodha’s claim to the estate, valued in excess of Rs 2,500 crore.

The Birlas will go in appeal to the Supreme Court.

“In 2005, Justice Kalyan Jyoti Sengupta held that these three members of the Birla family have no interest in connection with Priyamvada’s 1999 will. The appeal court affirmed that view, which is also the contention of my client,” said a spokesperson for Fox & Mondal, Lodha’s solicitors.

The Lodha camp, however, did not challenge the interest — “caveatable interest” in legal parlance — of M.P. Birla’s two sisters, Radha Devi and Laxmi Devi. A will can be probated only after the court decides who has a legally valid interest in the case.

Today’s verdict means the Birla trio has lost their case of caveatable interest to Lodha.

Lodha, once a close confidant of the Birlas, has been fighting a fierce legal battle with the Birla family over the assets of the M.P. Birla group since July 2004, after Priyamvada’s death. Lodha says Priyamvada made him the sole successor to her estate through the 1999 will.

In August 2004, the Birla family had produced two mutual wills — executed by M.P. Birla and his wife in 1982 — contesting the veracity of the 1999 will.

Today, the high court’s division bench accepted that Lodha, an executor of Priyamvada’s 1999 will, had an interest in M.P. Birla’s will of 1982.

A spokesperson for Khaitan & Co, solicitors for the Birlas, said: “We think the three members of the Birla family have an interest in the case and so we have decided to appeal to the Supreme Court.”

The Birlas said the verdict had maintained “status quo”. They found two reasons to be happy: G.P. Birla’s right to contest the 1999 will and Yashovardhan’s acceptance as an executor of M.P. Birla’s 1982 will.

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