Supreme Court appoints two former judges as mediators for Lalit Modi, mother to resolve a property dispute

The exercise to settle the Lalit Modi family property dispute out of court has started

The exercise to settle the Lalit Modi family property dispute out of court has started
The exercise to settle the Lalit Modi family property dispute out of court has started

Lalit Modi vs Bina Modi property dispute: SC appoints arbitrators

The Supreme Court on Thursday appointed two retired top court judges – Justices Vikramjit Sen and Kurian Joseph – as mediators between former IPL head Lalit Modi and his mother Bina Modi, wife of late industrialist K K Modi, to resolve a long-pending property dispute in the family. The SC was hearing Lalit Modi’s appeal against the judgment of a division bench of the Delhi High Court that the anti-arbitration injunction lawsuit filed by Bina Modi against her son is maintainable.

The bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana okayed the names of former apex court judges Justices Vikramjit Sen and Kurian Joseph as mediators. “Ultimately both parties have agreed to mediation under Judges Vikramjit Sen and Justice Kurian Joseph. We suggest parties use the facilities of the Mediation Centre at Hyderabad. They can request online mediation.

“We direct parties to maintain confidentiality and request mediators to take undertakings. Mediation to expedite proceedings preferably within a period of three months,” the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and Hima Kohli, said. A lawsuit had earlier been filed by Bina Modi. It sought to restrain the arbitration proceedings initiated by Lalit Modi, a founder of the Indian Premier League, in Singapore over the dispute. The apex court had earlier suggested mediation to the parties and asked them to give names of mediators of their choice.[1]

In December last year, the division bench of the Delhi High Court had held that it has the jurisdiction to decide Bina Modi’s plea challenging Lalit Modi’s move to initiate arbitration proceedings in Singapore. The division bench had set aside the judgment of a single judge of the high court, which had said it does not have the jurisdiction to adjudicate the anti-arbitration injunction suits filed by Lalit Modi’s mother Bina, his sister Charu and brother Samir and they are open to taking such pleas before the arbitral tribunal in Singapore. The single judge had said an anti-arbitration injunction suit does not lie, so the pleas are not maintainable, and dismissed the matter.

Bina, Charu, and Samir, in two separate suits, contended that there was a trust deed between the family members and the K K Modi family trust matters cannot be settled through arbitration in a foreign country according to Indian laws. They have sought a permanent injunction restraining Lalit Modi from prosecuting or continuing with the application for emergency measures and any arbitration proceedings against them in Singapore.

The division bench, in its 103-page judgment passed on December 24, 2020, had said the subject dispute ought to have been prima facie adjudicated by the single judge, who had to exercise the jurisdiction vested in the court as all the parties are Indian citizens and ‘situs’ of immovable assets of the trust is in India.

According to the case, the trust deed was executed in London by K K Modi as settlor/ managing trustee and Bina, Lalit, Charu, and Samir as trustees, and in pursuance to an oral family settlement recorded between them on February 10, 2006. Industrialist K K Modi died on November 2, 2019, after which the dispute emerged amongst the trustees.

Lalit Modi contended that after the demise of his father, in view of lack of unanimity amongst the trustees regarding the sale of trust assets, a sale of all assets of the trust has been triggered and distribution to beneficiaries has to occur within one year thereof, the single judge had noted. His mother and the two siblings contended that on a true construction of the trust deed, no such sale has been triggered.

[with PTI inputs]

References:

[1] Supreme Court suggests mediation to Lalit Modi and his mother for resolving property dispute in the familyDec 06, 2021, PGurus.com

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