MUMBAI: The Gopal Raheja family dispute has taken a new twist with the emergence of a fresh will wherein the late real-estate mogul has bequeathed his entire property — valued at Rs 11,000 crore in 2012 — equally between his two daughters, leaving nothing for son Sandeep.
The latest will had been purportedly written in January 2012, meaning it supersedes a 2007 will that said his estranged son and daughter-in-law Durga will inherit all his estates and other assets. According to the previous will, the billionaire Mumbai builder did not make any provision for daughters Sabita Narang and Sonali Arora because he had already provided for them. A lawyer representing Narang said the family knows about the latest will dated on January 12, 2012.
"Through this final will, the father has passed on entire control to both the daughters," said the lawyer on condition of anonymity. ET has reviewed a copy of what was referred to by the lawyer as the last registered will. In it Raheja has clarified that son Sandeep's rights over shares of various companies held by them in joint names were for the 'sake of convenience only" and that he has "no right of any nature" in respect of such shares. Sandeep Raheja did not respond to several telephone calls and text messages. K Raheja Constructions, which is managed by him, did not reply to an email seeking comment. The 2007 will had surprised many, because of the hostile relationship that the father and son had developed in recent years. In 2012, the senior Raheja had accused his son of trying to usurp his entire business consisting of 25 companies, and moved Bombay High Court against Sandeep. However, he had later expressed his willingness to consider an out-of-court settlement. Raheja died last at the age of 80 years. The group patriarch's death had left a question mark over the inheritance of his fortunes.
Asource close to one of the sisters said they were not open to discussing the issue in public and that they would still like to settle it out of court. he family is known to guard its privacy and has been maintaining a low profile. Narang and Arora, the daughters, have been named joint executors and trustees of the latest will. One of them is likely to represent the father in the ongoing court case. The next hearing is scheduled after court vacations. In the will that was purportedly drafted two years ago, the late Raheja declared that the assets were created by "own self-acquired properties" and therefore he had the right to dispose it as he "deemed fit".
Raheja's fight against his only son originated from an earlier arrangement of allotting shares to him in 2005-06. Raheja had given his son 58 per cent control of the company shares with an understanding that the father will still retain control of the group. In 2012, the father moved the court accusing his son of not fulfilling this arrangement. Raheja, one of the first professional developers in the country, had been active in the business since the 1960s and is known mostly for his residential developments across central Mumbai's Worli and the suburbs of Bandra, Khar, SantaCruz and Juhu.
The real-estate group is known as one of the biggest private owners of land in Mumbai. It also owns properties in other parts of the country through several subsidiaries. Raheja's father, Lachmandas, was also a real-estate developer, who founded the K Raheja group in the 1950s.