He is a Padma Bhushan. An ex-Sheriff of Mumbai. The first man to soar 69852 feet above sea level in a hot air balloon, a world record accomplished in November 2005. The tycoon who built the brand that claimed to dress up the ‘Complete Man’.
But now one-time high-flier and ex-Chairman Emeritus of the Raymond Group, Vijaypat Singhania, 78, claims he has been left aground and penniless by Gautam Singhania, his son and the current Chairman and Managing Director of the Raymond Group.
The elder Singhania's lawyer Dinyar Madon told the Bombay High Court that his 78-year-old client, who bequeathed all his wealth to his younger son, is now being driven "out of everything".
The Mumbai Mirror reported that the senior lawyer made the claim in the High Court two days after filing a petition on behalf of the elder Singhania seeking possession of a duplex flat in the redeveloped 36-storey JK House on Malabar Hill.
Gautam Singhania had in June 2017 urged Raymond shareholders to vote against the sale of the four 5185 square feet duplex houses in the 36-storey building at subsidised rates of Rs 9200 per square feet to his father, aunt and two cousins.
While the aunt and his two cousins had already filed an arbitration petition seeking that the deal be honoured, the elder Singhania has moved court against his son now.
Vijaypat Singhania currently lives in a rented row house in the city. "They are trying to squeeze him (Dr Singhania) now. All his perks - like a car and a driver - have been taken away," Madon was reported as saying by the Mirror.
JK House has four duplex flats, a museum and a flagship Raymond store, Mint reported. Proxy advisory firm IiAS, according to the paper, in a note on May 24 noted that giving away the flats at the subsidised price (a 90% discount over prevailing prices) will cause a Rs 650 crore loss to shareholders of Raymond.
It must be noted that the 78-year-old Singhania has had a fraught relationship with his family. This emerged in a petition in 2015 filed by the four children of his estranged son, who contested Vijaypat's decision to transfer all his wealth to Gautam.
Madhupati Singhania, his elder son, claimed in the submission that he had written away his rights in a Family Agreement in December 1998 and shifted to Singapore with his wife and four children after being repeatedly humiliated.
He also claimed his father never treated his mother with the love and respect due to her. A Mint report in 2015 said Madhupati's affidavit mentioned that his life was full of insults. His father would often pit him against his younger brother and the final straw came when his father decided to make Gautam the managing director.
The paper in the report stated that an unnamed person close to the family implied all this bad blood was probably a result of bad karma.
"Not many people remember but Vijaypat had a brother called Ajaypat. He was fond of the good things in life but he was part of the Raymond group. After his death, his family - which includes his wife Veena Devi and two children, Anant and Akshaypat - were deprived of everything. So, in a way, Vijaypat deserves what has come to him," the person was quoted as saying.
Another friend of the family told the paper that it wasn't bad karma but "pure business calls over emotions and bad parenting have landed Singhanias in this latest trouble."
The observations are worth revisiting in the light of this new dispute between father and son, where Vijaypat’s brother’s wife and her two children are now on the same side of the argument as him!