NEW DELHI: Friday saw the Birlas score a major victory in their 16-year-old tussle with the Lodhas for the Rs 25,000 crore M P Birla Group. The day saw the Calcutta High Court restrain Harsh Vardhan Lodha, who is currently chairman of the group and a director in various companies, from holding any post in the group of firms. The high court in its order also directed the group to implement the decision of the appointed committee of administrators (CoA).
The root of the tussle lies in Priyamvada Birla’s will, which had bequeathed her estate and control of the group to her chartered accountant R S Lodha and his second son Harsh Vardhan Lodha. With the High Court’s verdict, the Lodhas will no longer be in control of the group since the court has ordered the implementation of the APL committee’s decision.
This had been set up by the high court in 2012 to administer and manage the estate of Priyamvada Birla. The committee had last year opposed Lodha’s reappointment in the M P Birla group companies. In an emailed statement, the Birlas said that “these directions mean that Harsh Vardhan Lodha immediately ceases to hold all positions in the MP Birla Group, including as director in the companies and other positions in the trusts and societies of the MP Birla Group”. It also said that the Lodhas, as plaintiffs in the case have been directed to implement the decisions of the Committee of Administrators. “(Lodha’s) stranglehold on the MP Birla Group has been brought to an end by the Calcutta High Court,” it said.
However, the Lodhas are set to appeal the order, according to their legal respresentatives. HV Lodha had recently been appointed the chairman of group flagship Birla Corporation, despite the panel’s opposition.
The Birlas had moved the high court praying for the implementation of the APL Committee decisions on HV Lodha. While the case moved all the way up to the Supreme Court, the apex court had sent it back, stating that the decision taken by the companies would be subject to the final outcome of the high court decision.