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Raheja versus Raheja: Son says father swayed by Brahma Kumari

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The family dispute roiling the Rs 11,000-crore G L Raheja group has turned more rancorous. Sandeep, the scion of the construction giant, has accused his father, Gopal Raheja, 79, of filing a lawsuit against him since “I had objected to his intention to marry a Brahma Kumari half his age”. A Brahma Kumari is a member of a neo-Hindu religious movement.
Sandeep, 44, on Thursday filed a nearly 100-page reply to his father’s recent suit in the Bombay high court in which Gopal accused Sandeep of trying to “usurp” the business. In his reply, Sandeep claimed that Gopal’s plaint was “replete with false, slanderous statements against me and my family as well as contradictions”.
He produced his father’s two wills. Drafted in 2007, the second stated, “I bequeath all my estate, properties to my son Sandeep.”
In the reply too, Sandeep said Gopal was trying to paint the issue “filmi style” as a father-son dispute. But the “truth is that the dispute is of a commercial nature”, engineered by Gopal “in a conspiracy with outsiders for their benefits”. He said Gopal was pursuing “his designs to please a certain lady”.
“Whether Gopal is being manipulated or acting on his own, the fact is I am the majority shareholder and the group is called GL Raheja group since my father is the head of the family. It does not imply that he is the ‘all-in-all’ of the group,” Sandeep said.
2005 pact not interim step: Raheja son Gopal Raheja’s legal advisors said on Friday that his son Sandeep was raking up the Brahma Kumari issue to divert attention from the attempts made by him, his wife Durga and her parents to divest the paterfamilias of the business group. “The connection with the Brahma Kumari was for spiritual guidance. She went back to Mount Abu last year,” Gopal added.
Sandeep’s contentions add another chapter to the familial saga that is becoming increasingly bitter. Gopal’s suit, filed last month, had accused Sandeep and Durga of threatening to deny him medical attention at home, leaving him to “die”. It had claimed that Sandeep “lost interest in the business” after Durga was medically advised against bearing children following the birth of their second daughter in 2001. It also charged the son with seeking to enforce a “bogus” Sandeep Raheja family agreement last year when there existed an older G L Raheja family arrangement that was “binding”. Sandeep’s affidavit, filed through advocate Vivek Vashi, countered these allegations. He said Gopal never objected to the share transfers made from 1992 to 2006 in his name, which made him the majority shareholder. In 2005, the 17% share of his two sisters—Sabita and Sonali —worth around Rs 680 crore were transferred to Sandeep and they, in return, were given prime properties at nominal values.
Sandeep rebuffed Gopal’s claim that the 2005 arrangement was an “interim measure”, saying that the Companies Act does not recognize such a concept. He claimed that Gopal wants to divide the empire and give the sisters 17% shares again. The reply technically objected to the father’s suit on the grounds that it was “time-barred in law”. Sandeep said his father “concocted the GL Raheja family arrangement for the first time in June 2012 after I objected to his getting married to a Brahma Kumari.” Sandeep attached a certificate from a prominent citybased gynaecologist to show that his wife was still able to bear a child. He said it was Gopal who wanted a grandson and would ask him to “resort to esoteric” medical practices to have a son. “I said we were happy with two daughters if that is what destiny and God willed for us.” “As time passed my father even scorned me and my wife. We bore it stoically… Around that time he began visiting the Brahma Kumari for spiritual pursuits presumably. In 2009, he confided in me that he was getting very fond of her. On seeing my consternation, he assured me that he had no intention to marry her. I realized however that he was making daily calls to her and visited her at her Bandra house, even gave her a house as a gratuitous licence and one phone discarded by him revealed a very personal connection between the two through an SMS she sent him,” Sandeep’s reply said.
Sandeep said his father and he lived in the same building for 18 years till he abruptly left in December 2011 “for his ignoble reasons of pursuing his predilection”. Gopal had a surgery last year and around that time, Sandeep said, he got a shock when his father said that he intended to marry the Brahma Kumari. “I objected, saying the family will be ridiculed if he were to marry a woman younger than his youngest daughter.” Gopal’s Claims Son Sandeep, daughter-inlaw Durga and her parents are illegally trying to oust Gopal from the 25 companies the group patriarch set up and still controls In August 2011, Durga asked Gopal to buy a Rs 100-crore home in London; his reluctance to do so, led to the “disgraceful behaviour” that followed
Sandeep’s Claims Gopal is trying to deprive Sandeep of his “rightful” majority in the group by seeking a division of assets. Gopal wants to keep 36% of it, allocate 47% to Sandeep and give 8.5% each to Sandeep’s two sisters Gopal shifted to Raheja House, which was under renovation and thus uninhabitable, while Sandeep was away. On Sandeep’s return, Gopal asked him to transfer sizeable assets to his name since he wished to provide for his daughters Gopal “removed valuable documents” from the office on December 29-30, 2011. To safeguard remaining documents, locks to the cupboards and cabin were changed, but without affecting his access.
Source: Times of India

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