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'Will' battle continues to rage

August 21, 2004 11:03 IST

Ganga Prasad Birla, Kashinath Tapuriah and Pradip Kumar Khaitan on Friday filed a petition in the Calcutta high court, seeking permission to file photocopies of 'mutual wills' of late M P Birla and Priyamvada Birla so that they would not have to submit the original will for the purpose of litigation.

The petitioners sought permission to file the photocopies with an undertaking that if required they would file the original. On August 18, the Birlas had filed for grant of probate of the will of M P Birla and Priyamvada Birla dated July 13, 1982.

Birla vs Lodha: War over a will

Friday's petition also sought the acceptance of the application for grant of probate, and deposit of the original will with a direction to the registrar to keep it in safe custody.

P K Roy and Shyam Sankar Sarkar appeared for the Birlas, while Pratap Chatterjee, Amitesh Banerjee and Dhruba Ghosh appeared for R S Lodha.

Later, N G Khaitan, legal advisor to the Birla family, told reporters that they have filed the petition. The petition said the will was made in 1982 but, after the death of Priyamvada Birla, the petitioner came to know about another will made in 1999 by which she bequeathed her entire property to R S Lodha.

Lodha, being the executor of the will, filed an application for granting probate. The Birlas had challenged the authenticity of the 1999 will. It was also stated in the petition that the issue of the will has created a major sensation and generated high public interest.

Under the circumstances, the petitioners said, to eliminate all possible risks and danger of the 1982 will being lost, tampered, detached or damaged, the court should permit the Birla side to keep away the original will from inspection for now and instead file a photocopy of the will.

Justice Shubhro Kamal Mukherjee released the matter on personal grounds and directed the matter to be placed before the Chief Justice for assignment.
BS Bureau in Kolkata