MUMBAI: The city's oldest construction giant, the Rs 11,000-crore G L Raheja group, got mired in an acrimonious family feud as the group patriarch filed a petition on Monday in the Bombay high court, accusing his son of trying to "usurp" the business.
Gopal L Raheja, the 78-year-old paterfamilias, says in the suit that he was "constrained" to approach the court — despite being sick and recovering from an abdominal surgery earlier this month — due to the "shocking" behaviour of his son Sandeep and daughter-in-law Durga. The two, he alleges, threatened to deny him medical attention at home and leave him to "die". Moreover, they along with Durga's parents, Gopal says, are illegally trying to oust him from the 25 companies he set up and still controls.
He blames Durga's parents for instigating Sandeep, who helps run the empire, to act against an earlier family agreement.
Known as "GL" in the industry, Gopal built the G L Raheja real estate empire over five decades, during which time he gave India its first apartment hotel in Powai and Mumbai its first departmental store, Shoppers Stop. His companies are among the biggest private owner of land in Mumbai and possess properties in other parts of India, including The Carlton in Kodaikanal. He has one son, Sandeep, and two daughters, Sabita Narang and Sonali Arora. The immediate plea in his high court petition is to stop Sandeep from proceeding with board meetings on September 25 and later, which he says lack his consent.
According to the petition, the genesis of the family feud dates to the year 2005, when Sandeep began fearing interference from the brothers-in-law since his younger sister was detected with brain tumour and undergoing treatment. In 2006, Gopal, "being in absolute power", rearranged the shares within the family. He retained 42% of the holding company, left nothing to the two daughters, and gave 58% of it to Sandeep, Durga and their two minor daughters with the condition that Sandeep abide by the Raheja family arrangement. After this, Gopal continued as the group chairperson.
But the feud, according to the plaint, did not end. In August 2011, Durga asked Gopal to buy a Rs 100-crore house in London; his reluctance to do so, Gopal says, led to the "unfortunate events and disgraceful behaviour the next month".
On September 1, Sandeep called Gopal for a meeting along with his two sisters and a brother-in-law. In the meeting, the petition says, Sandeep tried forcing Gopal to sign over all the shares to him and his family. "Sandeep and his wife insisted on an immediate division then and there... they threatened Gopal that no medical attention would be given to him at home and that he would be left to die." They also allegedly threatened the sisters.
Sandeep, according to the petition, took the keys to Gopal's Bandra residence, Raheja House, at Pali Hill. On December 29, when Sandeep and Durga were holidaying in London, assisted by a locksmith, Gopal entered his home and found it "uninhabitable", with all the "bathrooms broken down", "electrical fuses ripped apart" and "large expensive marble tiles in ruins". When Gopal engaged workers to repair the house, the suit says, Sandeep and Durga returned from London and threatened to file a "rape" case against the workers unless they left immediately.
Ten days later, Gopal was "shocked to find that Sandeep had changed the lock to his office cabin in the office too". Sandeep further humiliated him, the petition says, by asking all the staff to report only to him. Gopal says he wrote letters to his son, expressing hurt and requesting him to be "reasonable". But these pleas and requests for mediation were also rebuffed.
The relation soured further this year with Sandeep's parents-in-law being brought on board the company, the suit says. On January 28, Sandeep wrote to Gopal, claiming "sole ownership and control" of the empire. The father and son thereafter exchanged acrimonious and emotional letters.
In July, Sandeep wrote a 26-page letter, where he accused Gopal of wrongful agreements with a third party. He wrote that, despite them staying together for 18 years, Gopal appeared to be under "the influence of one Chandrika, a Brahmakumari half his age, at whose behest this entire charade is being orchestrated". Sandeep also accused his sisters of using their father as a "pawn" to "extort additional monies". Gopal says the allegations were made to defame him.
On Monday, Gopal's counsel J P Sen asked for a stay on the annual general meetings called by Sandeep, while the son's counsel Mukul Rohtagi objected to the application on various grounds, including delay. Rohtagi said, "There is no dispute on the shareholding. The father holds 42% shares, of which son is the second holder. Sandeep and his family independently have 58% shares. Sisters have no shares since they sold them to Sandeep for Rs 6.75 crore and other assets." Rohtagi argued that Gopal's claims were "totally baseless". Sandeep's solicitor Vivek Vashi added, "There is no semblance of truth to the wild, derogatory, scandalous allegations made with oblique motives to show the son in poor light."
Justice S J Kathawala declined to stay any AGM of the group's companies. The meetings, the judge said, will be subject to the outcome of the matter later. He asked both parties to try and settle the issue out of court since it was a "family matter" and posted the case for further hearing on October 30.
i pity the person who worked whole of his life to build up an empire. what did he get at the end of the day ? a good lesson for all those who run after money. one day ur own children will fight for ur money.
mr GL raheja must b thinking nw, kya fayda hua itna kuch karne ka whole life.. answer: nothing.
Raheja versus Raheja: Son says father swayed by Brahma Kumari
MUMBAI: 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."
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
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