Gautam Singhania, Chairman and Managing Director of the Raymond Group, whose father Vijaypat Singhania is now fighting him in the Mumbai High Court, has stated that he is committed to being a responsible son.
The Hindi newspaper Dainik Bhaskar published a statement from the younger Singhania that said "my roles and responsibilities as the son and Chairman of Raymond are different."
The statement comes in the backdrop of events triggered by the younger Singhania urging Raymond shareholders in June 2017 to vote against the sale of four 5185 square feet duplex houses in the 36-storey JK House at 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 moved court against his son recently.
Gautam Singhania in his statement on Thursday went on to claim that while he welcomed the Raymond shareholders' decision to vote against this sale (at hugely discounted rates) as the Chairman of the Raymond's Group, as a son he had been attempting to resolve the dispute.
"The audit committee and Raymond's board sent the proposal related to the property to the shareholders' approval. This is necessary under the rules of corporate governance, but the shareholders rejected the proposal. Being a party, I did not vote. I believe shareholders' interests are bigger than family interests. So I welcomed the shareholders' decision.
"As a son, I have been trying to resolve the dispute for two years with my father and other family members. As a son, I am committed to my responsibilities."
Vijaypat Singhania's lawyer Dinyar Madon had told the Bombay High Court in the affidavit contesting the Raymond shareholders' decision 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 had reported that the senior lawyer made the claim in the High Court two days after filing the petition on behalf of the elder Singhania seeking possession of a duplex flat in the redeveloped 36-storey JK House on Malabar Hill.
"Such matters should not have reached the courts in the first place. These are disputes between a father and son. Try and resolve it amicably," Justice GS Kulkarni of the Bombay High Court observed, while adjourning the hearing to August 22 and prohibiting any further transactions involving the two floors of JK House locked in dispute until further orders.
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.
The 36-storey 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 then that it wasn't bad karma but "pure business calls over emotions and bad parenting have landed Singhanias in this latest trouble."