Legal Correspondent

Bench had reserved orders on a Special Leave Petition in November 2005

High Court had erroneously rejected revision petitions before the trial court, say petitionersNo criminal case made out against the accused because the probate proceedings were still pending

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court will give its verdict on Friday on a special leave petition against a Calcutta High Court order declining to stay the trial against R.S. Lodha and others for allegedly forging the will of the late Priyamvada Birla. A Bench of Justice B.P. Singh and Justice S.H. Kapadia had reserved orders on the SLP on November 10, 2005.

Rajinder Pansari, an associate of the Birlas, had filed a criminal case in a Kolkata court against Lodha, V. Gaurishankar, S.N. Prasad and S.K. Daga, accusing them of having committed a fraud by drafting Priyamvada Birla's will in Lodha's favour.

Mr. Prasad filed a revision petition in the High Court to quash the criminal proceedings but this was rejected. Both Mr. Prasad and advocate, Gaurishankar filed special leave petitions in the apex court seeking to quash the High Court order and stay of all further proceedings pending before the trial court.

The petitioners contended that the High Court had erroneously rejected the revision petitions in the case challenging the proceedings before the trial court. They said that no criminal case had been made out against the four accused because the probate proceedings were still pending. The criminal complaint was filed under Section 406 of the Indian Penal Code misuse of authority as administrator of property, abuse of position and grabbing property. They also denied the allegation that Mr. Lodha, who was auditor of the Birla group, was entrusted with the property vested in the form of five public trusts. Priyamvada Birla had clearly created the will in favour of Mr. Lodha after revoking the earlier will, they said. Therefore, there was no criminal breach of trust as alleged in the complaint. On behalf of the Birlas it was argued that the Lodha camp had not clearly explained what was the Deed by which Priyamvada Birla had revoked the Will. The offence of criminal breach of trust was clearly made out in this case as the accused had induced Priyamvada Birla to revoke the five trusts before making a will in favour of Mr. Lodha.