Lodha lawyers target witnesses

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By Staff Reporter in Calcutta
  • Published 9.02.05

Calcutta, Feb. 9: Criticising two of the three witnesses of Priyamvada Birla?s 1999 will, Rajendra Singh Lodha?s lawyers today questioned the actions of P. L. Agarwal and M. S. Vaidya in the high court.

Arguing for Lodha in the criminal case, Supreme Court lawyer Shanti Bhushan contended that Agarwal and Vaidya could be held guilty of perjury.

According to him, both of them had confirmed through affidavits that the 1999 will was executed in front of them and they signed on the document in the presence of Priyamvada Birla.

But later they retracted from their statements and said the will was not signed in front of them. Raising this point, Lodha and three others, S. M. Prasad, V. Gourishankar and S. K. Daga, were accused of conspiring to usurp the assets of the MP Birla group and a criminal case was slapped against four of them in Alipore Court.

With Prasad moving the high court seeking quashing of the case, filed by Rajendra Prasad Pansari, the matter is now being heard in the court of Justice P. N. Sinha.

Citing the anomalies in the actions of Agarwal and Vaidya, Bhusan accused the duo of committing perjury, besides questioning the locus of Pansari.

Both sides have already filed petitions to authenticate their versions of Priyamvada Birla?s last testament. Interestingly, Agarwal played the role of witness in both the 1999 and 1982 wills and his affidavits ? confirming his presence during execution and signature ? have been filed with both the probate petitions.

Bhusan also went on the offensive against the country?s first business family. If Lodha can be accused of trying to misappropriate funds for charity by filing for probate, the Birlas should be charged by the same logic for seeking probate of the 1982 will.

CLB case

The company law board (CLB) has reserved its order on a petition seeking probe into the functions and control structure in Birla Corporation, the MP Birla group flagship. CLB chairman S. Balasubramanian reserved his order after hearing arguments of both the sides. The hearing on the other petition, which accused the present management of ?mismanagement and oppression?, has been fixed on March 17.