Administrator appointed by HC to safeguard estate of Purvez Dalal in Rs 200 crore dispute

Two sides-‘heirs’ and ‘confidantes’-are in tussle over properties of Purvez Dalal, who died in 2011.

In a dispute pertaining to two wills, both of which list properties worth around Rs 200 crore and involve a practicing advocate of the Bombay High Court, the HC has appointed an administrator to safeguard the estate.

Article by Sunil Baghel, Mumbai Mirror

10-03 The division bench of Justices V M Kanade and A K Menon earlier this month rejected the challenge to an order passed by a singlejudge HC bench last year.

The case pertains to properties owned by Purvez Dalal, who died in December 2011. Two different parties – one claiming to be his legal heirs and the other to be Dalal’s confidante/servants, have produced different wills.

The alleged confidante, Manek Sukhadwalla, who claims to be the executor of the will made in September 2011, has said the will bequeaths Dalal’s entire property to charity.

The other will, executed in December 2010 where HC advocate Jimmy Avasia has been named as executor, gives the property to Avasia’s stepmother Villy.

Avasia, however, later renounced his right to act as this will’s executor. Villy is the widow of Dalal’s brother, who divorced him in 1959 but claims to be on good terms with Dalal till death.

The division bench, while appointing an advocate as the administrator, observed that Sukhadwalla’s side seems to have behaved in amanner which justifies the appointment.

Sukhadwalla’s advocates had argued that an HC injunction against his side which bars them from selling, disposing of or creating any rights in the properties was good enough to protect the estate.

The bench accepted the other side’s contentions that Sukhadwalla’s side had not disclosed the extent of the entire estate to the HC, despite an order from the court, and that they had probably done away with one property located near Crawford Market.

The court also observed that Avasia’s side had stated that even they would want the properties to go to charity, and therefore there should not be a problem to any side in appointing an administrator.

The bench also rejected another contention raised by Sukhadwalla’s side that the court did not have jurisdiction to appoint an administrator in will-related cases.

Both sides have filed separate cases seeking ratification of their wills and each has intervened in the other’s case in a very keenly contested matter.

Avasia’s side is contesting the other will, saying Sukhadwalla and two of his friends had come to know Dalal just 14 months before he passed away.

His side raised doubts about the doctor’s report attached to the will, certifying Dalal as physically fit, saying that Dalal wasn’t able to move out of his home.

They added that even the sub-registrar and a bank representative had to visit his home when the will was executed. They also questioned the statement of a witness with regards to Dalal’s thumb impression on the other will. This witness is alleged to have given varying statements on the same point.

Sukhadwalla’s side has said their will of September 2011 was the only registered one, and therefore it had to take precedence over the unregistered will presented by Avasia’s side. The court, however, observed that registration of the will was not the only criteria.

This side also argued that they were not seeking any benefits out of the will, and that the property was supposed to go to charity. Avasia’s side countered this point by submitting that there were enough charitable organisations known to recycle donations back to the donor.