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File original wills, HC tells G.P. Birla — Next hearing on September 8

Our Legal Correspondent

Kolkata , Sept. 2

MR Justice K.J. Sengupta of the Calcutta High Court today dismissed two petitions filed by Mr G.P. Birla, Mr K.N. Tapuria and Mr P.K. Khaitan seeking to file a notarised photocopy of the wills of M.P. Birla and his wife, Priyamvada Birla, executed in 1982. The court observed that original wills have to be filed to obtain probate.

The court directed the three to file the original wills within seven days of receiving the copy of the order.

It also held that the probate petition filed by Mr G.P. Birla, Mr K.N. Tapuria and Mr P.K. Khaitan was defective because the signatures of attesting witnesses were absent. This should be rectified, the court said. The court also fixed the hearing of the application made by the two sisters of M.P. Birla, Ms Radha Mohta and Ms Laxmibai Newar, seeking that the Lodha probate petitions be declared as contentious and the probate petition be treated as a suit.

On Thursday Mr Anindya Mitra, counsel for Mr R.S. Lodha, resumed his argument stating that Mr Y. Birla, Mr K.K. Birla, Mr B.K. Birla and Mr G.P. Birla have no right to file caveat. M.P. Birla has not inherited any property from his father, Rameshwar Das Birla, and therefore the concept of ancestral property does not apply in this case.

It was also stated that the property of the Birla family was partitioned in 1933.

Mr Mitra said that the Birla family business has been divided in the names of K.K. Birla group of companies, B.K. Birla group of companies, and Aditya Birla group of companies.

Their respective income-tax returns also go to show the existence of such companies; hence, the concept of Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) does not arise at all. Referring to the affidavit of Mr B.K. Birla, the counsel said that in this affidavit the concept of HUF was not there, but the extended Birla family concept was being sought to be established.

The counsel also tried to refer to an affidavit made on Rs 10 non-judicial stamp paper, where Kumaon Orchard is shown as joint family property in which Priyamvada Birla is co-owner with Mr K.K. Birla, Mr Sudarshan Birla and Mr B.K. Birla. This copy was sent by the Birlas to Mr Lodha but was not filed in court by any of the parties involved.

The first two pages of the affidavit do not tally because in the affidavit, the name of Mr Sudarshan Birla does not appear. The court did not pass any order on this affidavit, but the advocate on record of the Lodhas can take inspection of this document from the advocate on record of Khaitan and Company appearing for the Birlas. The hearing will resume on September 8.

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