SC dismisses all 4 appeals in Priyamvada will dispute case

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New Delhi, Mar 31 (UNI) The Supreme Court today dismissed all the four appeals filed by the Birlas against the Calcutta High Court judgement dismissing their petitions for being heard in the Priyamvada will probate proceedings involving assets worth over Rs 5,000 crores.

The verdict was seen as a major setback to the Birlas in the Priyamvada 'will-dispute' case.

A bench comprising Justices S B Sinha and Harjeet Singh Bedi imposed a cost of Rs 2.5 lakhs and directed the Birlas to deposit the same within four weeks with the member secretary of West Bengal Legal Services Authority.

The apex court, however, allowed the two appeals filed by Rajendra Singh Lodha who is claiming that Priyamvada Devi Birla had bequeathed her respective estate in his favour on July 13, 1982 and the 'will' was in identical terms executed on or about which was executed May 10, 1981.

Birlas namely, Krishan Kumar Birla, Basant Kumar Birla and Yashowardhan Birla had challenged the High Court judgement holding that the petitioners have no caveatable interest in the probate proceedings.

Allowing the appeal of R S Lodha, the apex court in its 99-page judgement noted,''we have already held that GPB has caveatable interest as executer of MPB in respect of his will of 1982. We, therefore, see no reason as to why RSL would not have a caveatable interest being a beneficiary under the 1999 will in the proceedings for 'grant of probate of the will' of MPB dated July 13, 1982.

If the grounds taken in the appeal are to be upheld, the same exfacie would destroy the case of the appellants in the other cases.'' The apex court also directed that the probate proceedings shall be disposed of as expediously as possible and the suit on mutual will filed in 2004 shall be taken up after the disposal of the probate proceedings if necessary.

The apex court in its judgement also said,''before parting with this case we may notice some disturbing features, each party for good or bad reasons has been opposing one or the other application filed by the other.

It is stated that respondent number one is opposing the application for substitution of heir and legal representative of Mrs Lakshmi Devi Mewar, sister of MPB. We do not know on what premise such a stand is being taken.

For the reasons afore mentioned civil appeal arising out of SLP (C) number 10176 of 2007 filed by RSL challenging appointment of YB is allowed and all other appeals are dismissed with cause.

The apex court also ruled that the high court was right in opining caveatable interest which may arise only after the suit for enforcement of mutual will is decreed and not prior thereto.'' UNI SC PDT HT1912

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