The legal battle over transfer of late Maharani Gayatri Devi’s shares in royal family’s firms has been decided in favour of her grandchildren, Devraj and Lalitya Kumari with the Delhi High Court ordering rectification of share registers of the companies.
Jagat Singh, son of Gayatri Devi and Sawai Man Singh, held 99% shares in firms including Jai Mahal Hotels Pvt Ltd and later died leaving behind a will that his mother would be the owner of all his properties.
Gayatri Devi, who died on 29 July 2009, left a will saying all her properties, including the shares in the firms, would be inherited by her grand children Devraj and Lalitya Kumari.
The transfer of shares in favour of Gayatri Devi’s grand children was opposed by other heirs of late Maharaja Sawai Man Singh. They were his (Sawai Man Singh) other sons, Prithviraj Singh, Jai Singh and his maternal grand daughter Urvashi Devi.
Justice Indermeet Kaur, deciding the dispute between members of Rajasthan’s royal family, set aside an order of the Company Law Board (CLB) which had refused to direct rectification in share registers of Jai Mahal Hotels Pvt Ltd, Rambagh Place Hotels Pvt Ltd, SMS Investment Corporation Pvt Ltd and Sawai Madhopur Lodge Pvt Ltd.
Earlier, the grand children of Gayatri Devi had moved the CLB for rectification that the shares pertaining to their father and grand mother be transferred to them.
According to the court, “The CLB returning a finding apposite has committed an illegality which is liable to be set aside. It is accordingly set aside. The order dated March 16, 2011 is set aside; the member register of the companies be rectified in the name of the petitioner group and petitioners i.E. Devraj and Lalitya Kumari be substituted in lieu of Jagat Singh.”
The royal family has key income-generating properties such as Rambagh Place Hotel and Jai Mahal Hotel.
The court dismissed the contentions of Prithviraj Singh, Jai Singh and Urvashi Devi.
The court also said, “The appeals filed by the respondent group (Prithviraj Singh, Jai Singh and Urvashi Devi are infructuous; they have supported the order of CLB; their prayer in the appeal that the shares register be rectified in their favour as necessarily to be dismissed as, even as per their own statement, they do not have any document to support their submission that they are entitled to the rectification of the member register qua these shares of Jagat Singh in their favour.”
“…It is clear that the alleged disputes raised by the respondent group in so far as the rectification issue is concerned are all illusory.
“Admittedly, these shares were in the name of Jagat Singh who had bequeathed them to his mother Maharani Gayatri Devi and she in terms of a settlement arrived at between her grandchildren, followed by her will had bequeathed the said share holding thereafter in favour of her grandchildren i.E. the petitioner group,” it said.
The court, in its 38-page judgement, noted that it was not disputed that 99 percent shareholding of the company was owned by late Jagat Singh and only one% shareholding was in the name of Prithviraj Singh.