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A will. A fortune. A fight

July 14, 2004

The Birla family treeIt's the kind of stuff Bollywood thrives on. But this real life story has more ingredients for a runaway hit than most films do.

A death. A will. A gigantic fortune. A super rich family. A surprise benefactor. And now preparations for a legal battle.

The will left by Priyamvada Birla has stunned the Birla family. All of the Madhav Prasad Birla Group's assets, worth over Rs 5,000 crore, have been bequeathed to Kolkata-based chartered accountant Rajendra S Lodha, who is also co-chairman of Birla Corporation and former president of FICCI.

R S LodhaPriyamvada, who died on July 3, was chairman of Birla Corporation Ltd and the head of the MP Birla Group.

The astounded Birlas have now come together to fight the 'outsider' and to keep him from 'taking away the family's property.'

"As per law, the property of a person goes to the nearest relative. How can an outsider claim the Birla family property?" Basant Kumar Birla, the patriarch of the Birla family, asked on Wednesday.

Asked if the Birlas are doubting the veracity of the will, he said, "It is not the question of doubting the veracity. It may be correct, it may be wrong, but we have to deal with it from a legal point of view, for which steps are being taken."

Lawyers meanwhile opine that if the Birlas are able to prove without doubt that Priyamvada's will was not in keeping with her natural behaviour, then they could be on a strong legal wicket, said

The will can also be challenged on another point: 'good presumption of undue influence' as R S Lodha was considered very close to Priyamvada Birla. If this is proven, the will could be declared invalid, said

The other basis for invalidation is if it is proven that the person was not of sound mind while signing it. The brief will -- apparently a mere four lines -- can be considered unusual though not bad in law, said

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Number of User Comments: 16

Sub: Lodha Ka Dil Mange More

Birlas have acquired this fortune over 125 years. They have a rich tradition with time tested legacy for charity.The fortune belongs not only to M ...

Posted by dinesh

Sub: Succession issue

The Birla episode has opened an interesting turn of events in Indian corporate world.Wonder how many such biggie families are without successors and going the ...

Posted by Radhika

Sub: My views on the Birla's Will

Mrs P Birla in her old age did not get the love and affection from her near and dear ones. The emotional imbalance for her ...

Posted by N. Anand Rao

Sub: will

I think the Birla's are right in dropping Lodha & Co as auditor. I feel the will was completely manupulated by the Lawyer who drafted ...

Posted by annie

Sub: Wht a shame!

I didnt expect Birla's to wash their dirty linen in public like this. look whr our 'respectable' corporates are heading!!!! Priyamvada Birla shld have donated ...

Posted by Radhika


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