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Legal

Updated on: Thursday, December 16, 2021, 02:17 PM IST

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

PTI
Supreme Court | Photo Credit: PTI

Supreme Court | Photo Credit: PTI

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday appointed two retired top court judges 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 top court was hearing Lalit Modi's appeal against the judgement of a division bench of the Delhi High Court that the anti-arbitration injunction lawsuit filed by Bina Modi against her son is maintainable.

A 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 facilities of the Mediation Centre at Hyderabad. They can request for 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.

In December last year, the division bench of the 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 judgement 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 take 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 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 judgement passed on December 24, 2020, had said the subject dispute ought to have been prime 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.

"In view of the foregoing discussion, we are of the considered view that the single judge gravely erred by failing to exercise the jurisdiction vested in the court, which statutorily required him to adjudicate, whether the disputes between the parties, in relation to the trust deed, were per se referable to arbitration.

"This, in our respectful view, is tantamount to wrong exercise of jurisdiction by the single judge. The impugned judgment cannot resultantly be sustained.., " the bench had said.

The division bench had remanded two civil suits to the single judge for further proceedings, in accordance with law, from the stage of issuance of summons and directed the registry to list them for hearing.

According to the case, the trust deed was executed at 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.

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 ale 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.

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Published on: Thursday, December 16, 2021, 02:17 PM IST
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