The Supreme Court on Friday refused to quash the criminal proceedings initiated by an employee of the Birla Group against R S Lodha and three of his associates for alleged criminal breach of trust and forging of the will of late Priyamvada Birla.
"The criminal proceedings cannot be quashed at this stage," a division bench of Justice B P Singh and Justice S H Kapadia said, dismissing an appeal filed by Shivnath Prasad and V Gauri Shankar, co-accused in the criminal complaint.
Prasad and Shankar had, in an SLP filed in the Supreme Court, challenged a Calcutta high court order passed on July one, 2005. The high court had declined to quash the criminal complaint and sent the matter for trial to an Alipore court.
The Supreme Court said the matter needed to be fully inquired into and felt that evidence needed to be recorded in the case.
However, the Bench clarified that it was not passing any observation on the merits of the case, which shall be looked into by the trial court.
Rajendra Prasad Pansari, working with the M P Birla Group since 1977, had filed a complaint before the Alipore court in Kolkata against Lodha, V Gaurishankar, S N Prasad and S K Daga, accusing them of having committed fraud by drafting Priyamvada Birla's will in Lodha's favour.
Pansari alleged that after the death of Priyamvada Devi Birla in July 2004, it was found by him that "Lodha had criminally conspired with other accused persons and misappropriated property worth Rs 2,400 crore (Rs 24 billion) vested in five trusts" meant for charitable purposes.
Challenging the high court order, the petitioners had stated that the criminal complaint against Lodha should be quashed as it had been filed by a person who had no interest in the estate and properties in question.