300-bed hospital is cause of feud between two brothers

P.T. Jyothi Datta

Mumbai, Sept. 29

For a visitor driving into Mumbai from the airport, the yellow façade of Lilavati Hospital is among the recognisable landmarks that dot the cityscape. But the statuesque 300-bed hospital is at the heart of a feud between two brothers from the promoter-family, Mr Vijay Mehta and Mr Kishor Mehta.

A family feud that brings back memories of a similar tussle between the Nanda brothers over Delhi's Escorts Heart Institute, before it was eventually sold to white-knight Fortis Healthcare for Rs 650 crore last year.

Strikingly similar case

The broad strokes are strikingly similar. Mr Vijay and his younger brother, Mr Kishor, are locked in a legal battle over several issues, including the appointment of the former as a permanent trustee of the Lilavati Kirtilal Mehta Medical (LKMM) Trust that runs the charitable Lilavati Hospital. The hospital is valued at an estimated Rs 850 crore.

During the feud over Escorts Heart Institute in 2003, younger brother Mr Anil Nanda had picked issues with his brother over corporatisation of the charitable Escorts Hospital. Elder brother Mr Rajan Nanda had, however, maintained that the hospital had been corporatised three years ago.

The concern

With hospitals being at the centre of both the feuds, the concern is obvious. Is Lilavati going the Escorts way? The Trust will be diluted, merged with another Trust and ultimately sold off, Mr Rajiv Mehta, son of Mr Kishor Mehta, told

Business Line

. Mr Rajiv's brother, Mr Prashant Mehta, is also convinced that Lilavati Hospital will be eventually sold off like Escorts.

Mr Vijay Mehta, however, was not available for comment and a fax to his advocate, Mr Ishwar Nankanir, on the fate of Lilavati Hospital, did not elicit a response. Without addressing specifics, a note from Lilavati's Vice-President, Dr Narendra Trivedi, said: "Since such allegations are in a form of judicial or investigative proceedings and being sub-judice, we are advised not to comment upon the same till they are adjudicated upon."

Going back to the root of the problem, Mr Rajiv Mehta points out that his parents, Mr Kishor Mehta and Ms Charu Mehta, were two of the three permanent trustees appointed by his grand father, Mr Kirtilal Manilal Mehta, when the LKMM Trust was set up in 1978. Ms Rekha Sheth, Mr Rajiv's aunt, is the other permanent trustee.

Mr Vijay Mehta was appointed a "rotating trustee" for a period of three years in 1990 and as per the original Trust deed, this term could not be extended for more than three terms, Mr Rajiv Mehta explained. Documents on meetings appointing Mr Vijay Mehta as a permanent trustee are at present under scrutiny, as directed by the Bombay High Court.

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(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 30, 2006)
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