"Before the death of Priyamvada Birla, Rajendra Singh Lodha was a friend of the Birla family, but after her death he has been identified as a villain," said Saktinath Mukherjee, counsel for R S Lodha, at the court of Justice K J Sengupta in Kolkata on Thursday.
Mukherjee was opposing the petition filed by two sisters of M P Birla, Laxmi Devi Newar and Radha Devi Mohatta, and also K K Birla, G P Birla, B K Birla and Yashovardhan Birla, seeking appointment of an individual administrator over the properties and assets of M P Birla estate.
Mukherjee sought to establish that during her lifetime, Priyamvada Birla took her own decisions and firmly kept all the Birlas out.
In this context, the counsel read out a letter of K P Tapuria, brother of Priyamvada, dated January 18, 1996, written to Priyamvada, where it was evident that Priyamvada used to act independently.
Allegations made by the Birlas regarding the illiteracy of Priyamvada therefore did not have any substance, Mukherjee added. Mukherjee argued the relationship of the other Birlas with the M P Birla family was unhappy and was so for many years.
The other Birlas therefore had no right to claim they were acting to protect the properties of M P Birla.
The counsel stated Priyamvada relied on R S Lodha for years and no other Birla raised any objection when Priyamvada inducted R S Lodha and his son on the board of M P Birla group companies.
Mukherjee read out another letter dated December 19, 1998, written by K N Tapuria to his sister complaining she was not interested in maintaining her relationship with Tapuria, to prove that their relations were bad.
Allegations against R S Lodha relating to disposal of assets of Birla Synthetic and Soorah Jute Mill were baseless, the counsel added. The hearing will continue.
Meanwhile, two sisters of M P Birla Laxmi Newar and Radha Mohata today filed a fresh case against R S Lodha, through a petition before the Company Law Board, eastern region bench at Kolkata, alleging the fraudulent transfer of shares of East India Investment Company Pvt Ltd by Lodha.
CLB fixed January 12 as the date of hearing of the matter. In the petition it was alleged that Lodha had illegally transferred 33,715 shares of EIICPL in his favour before moving his probate petition before the Calcutta high court.
The transfer was effected on July 15, 2004, as a part of the scheme to gain control of the M P Birla group, the petition alleged. The petition sought a order of appointment of a special officer to take possession of those shares as well as register of members, minute book and other records of the company.
Two sisters sought orders cancelling of the transfer standing in the name of late Priyamvada Birla and injunction restraining Lodha from exercising any rights relating to the shares.