Birla Corp AGM adjourned amid furore over chairmanship

Monday’s bone of contention centred around the contentious issue as to who would chair the AGM in the backdrop of a slew of legal petitions including one in the Supreme Court. Proceedings were held after a group of shareholders cited the latest Supreme Court order in this respect.

The Supreme Court, on Monday, refused to offer relief to Harsh Vardhan Lodha, who had sought a stay on a Company Law Board interim order that barred him from chairing the Birla Corp annual general meeting. The apex court also directed the Calcutta High Court to hear petition by Lodha and Birla camps on Tuesday.

The CLB had recently prevented Harsh Vardhan Lodha, son of the late Chairman R S Lodha, from chairing the AGM, following which he sought a stay from the country’s apex court. R S Lodha was the disputed beneficiary of the M P Birla group chairperson Priyamvada Birla’s will that bequeathed the entire assets of the group to him.

CLB order

“The very order of the CLB, according to the legal opinion given to us is not in the interest of the company and is not maintainable and that is why we went to the High Court first and then to the Supreme Court,” said Harsh Vardhan Lodha.

“It directed the high court to hear it (the petition) 10.30 a.m. on Tuesday,” Lodha told reporters here on the sidelines of the AGM.

Vikram Swarup, a director, told shareholders that the CLB had said on July 22 that certain steps had to be taken while conducting the AGM. An appeal was made to the Calcutta High Court and a special leave petition (SLP) was filed with the Supreme Court. “The SLP was heard on Monday and the Supreme Court has directed that the appeal against the CLB order should be heard at the high court tomorrow morning. In the light of the above, the meeting is adjourned,” Swarup added.

Earlier during the meeting, shareholders passed a resolution proposing Director Pracheta Majumdar to chair the AGM. But when he adjourned the AGM till August 24, the
shareholders sought a vote on the matter. Shareholders also passed a resolution that the vacancy caused by the demise of RS Lodha would not be filled up. Harsh is the youngest of three children of R S Lodha and had moved the Calcutta High Court seeking conversion of his father’s proceedings for the over Rs 5,000-crore M P Birla group assets, for which late R S Lodha had filed a probate application vide a will by Priyamvada Birla.

Chairman R S Lodha died last October leaving unresolved a fierce legal fight with the Birla family over the ownership of assets of the M P Birla Group.

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