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Lodha invokes the Mahatma

August 26, 2004 09:08 IST
The Father of the Nation has emerged as a witness in the Lodha-Birla will battle over the registered will of Priyamvada Birla, who died on July 3, 2004.

Rajendra Singh Lodha fired his first salvo on Wednesday by producing a crucial letter written by Gajanan Birla at the hearing of the discharge petition.

Birla vs Lodha: War over a will

The key witness to the letter was the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi.

Anindya Mitra, former additional solicitor general representing the Lodhas, produced a letter in the court of Kalyan Jyoti Sengupta, written by Gajanan Birla relinquishing his stake in the estate. Gajanan is grandfather of Yashvardhan Birla, one of the caveators.

The letter dated August 2, 1934 was signed by Gajanan Birla in the presence of Mahatma Gandhi and G D Birla in Benares.

The letter clearly states that by a registered deed dated March 16, 1933, with the consent and concurrence of Gopa Koer Birla (wife of Gajanan Birla),

Gajanan Birla transferred all shares in joint stock companies, held in his own name or jointly with others as also his claim to the estate to father Rameshwar Das Birla.

The letter further said, "Either in my own right or as a member of the family, either in present or in future, to unto or upon any property, business or assets whatsoever, I have ceased to have any interest in or authority concerning any property or business in which Raja Baldeo Dass Birla or any of his decendants are interested."

The letter assumed significance as it not only questioned Yashvardhan Birla's interest in the case but, also brought up the issue of the Birlas' claim of being a Hindu undivided family.

Inside the court room, the mention of the letter evoked mixed feelings among the 200-odd people packed inside one of the smaller rooms.

BS Bureau in New Delhi