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More to come? Cyril Shroff to file affidavit showing Shardul ‘deeply involved’ in making of mother’s controversial will [READ ORDER]

Cyril Shroff: To file affidavit
Cyril Shroff: To file affidavit

After agreeing to mediation following today’s no-holds barred spilling of alleged family secrets from P Chidambaram appearing for Shardul Shroff, senior counsel Iqbal Chagla told the Bombay high court in his closing remarks that his client Cyril Shroff would be filing an affidavit showing the “deep involvement” of his brother in the will.

The affidavit will be filed within three weeks, Chagla told Justice RD Dhanuka who was presiding over the matter.

According to sources with knowledge of the dispute, the affidavit for the defence could allege that Shardul Shroff exerted undue influence on Bharati Shroff in amending her will to exclude the Mumbai side of the family.

An Amarchand Delhi spokesperson, Shardul and Pallavi Shroff did not respond to a request seeking comment. Cyril and Vandana Shroff did not respond to a request for comment.

Large parts of late Amarchand matriarch Bharati Shroff’s will and accompanying codicil, which were allegedly videographed, duly witnessed and executed, were read out in open court by Chidambaram appearing for Shardul Shroff.

The codicil executed in January 2014 disinherited Cyril and his family entirely, according to Chidambaram, and the will also included personal allegations made against Cyril and his family that she had been “reduced to a mere showpiece” and was neglected and abused by the Mumbai side of the family.

In the original will before the codicil, both brothers were to buy out Bharati’s stake in the event of her death, with the cash proceeds going to a named charity.

After a tumultuous hearing that was interrupted for a more than one-hour break at 2pm to allow the parties to decide on mediators, the court agreed to allow mediation between the parties until 31 December 2014, as first reported in Legally India’s live blog of today’s hearing.

Shardul and Cyril Shroff both jointly nominated as mediators senior investment banking guru Nimesh Kampani, with Shardul nominating Justice BN Srikrishna, and Cyril nominating senior counsel Harish Salve. The three names were agreed to by the parties and the court.

Shardul Shroff was absent in Mumbai today, but from the Delhi side of the family son-in-law Naval Chopra and his wife Pallavi Shroff – both partners in the firm - were present.

The Mumbai side of the family was represented by Cyril Shroff and his wife and partner Vandana Shroff, who is a co-defendant in the case alongside Amarchand Mumbai non-family equity partner L Viswanathan. Cyril and Vandana's son Rishabh, a lawyer at the firm, was also present in court.

Co-defendants and independent management committee members George Goulding and James Abraham were represented by senior counsel Darius Khambata.

The dispute revolves around Bharati’s 22.5 per cent equity stake in Amarchand Mangaldas, equivalent to 52,000 so-called units, which she willed to Shardul but that would have resulted in upsetting the balance of roughly equal equity and control held by the two brothers, as reported by Legally India on Friday.

The parties both agreed before the court to freeze those 52,000 units and for any profits due to that share to be paid into a separate suspense account of the firm on 10 December, which is the date of the next quarterly profit distribution at the firm. 

The court did not pass an order on the 52,000 units, of which Cyril and Vandana Shroff currently jointly hold 26,000, while the other 26,000 are still in Bharati's name, following the disputed management committee decision that each brother could purchase the equivalent of half of the willed units. Shardul did not exercise that option because he disputed the committee’s decision.

Update: Goulding and Abraham had instructed J Sagar Associates (JSA) senior partner Berjis Desai, who in turn briefed senior counsel Darius Kambhata. Viswanathan instructed DSK Legal partner Nirav Shah, who briefed Birendra Saraf. (hat-tip to LI commenter Bombay Lawyer).

Cyril Shroff instructed Federal & Rashmikant, while Shardul Shroff had Bharucha & Partners heading the legal team.

Click here for a full live account of today’s hearing

Shroff V Shroff: Today's Bombay HC order


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