He moved HC through 2 sisters, seeking protection of assets in event of his demise
For almost a decade, the Mafatlal family fought bitterly for the family heirloom but it was the last suit filed by Ajay Mafatlal’s two sisters on his behalf that is perhaps the most poignant.
The suit was filed on August 13 and the liberal use of the phrase “upon his demise” or “immediately thereafter” raises one important question. Was Ajay Mafatlal preparing for the worst? Ajay passed away on August 22 at Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai.
The suit in question was filed in the Bombay HC by Gayatri Jhaveri and Malavika Taktawala, who were “on his side” in the war within the family. The siblings on the other side are Ajay’s brother, Atulya, and sister, Kunti Shah.
The suit seeks “protection of” Ajay’s assets in the house he always lived in — second floor of the Mafatlal Bungalow at Altamount Road. Only Atulya Mafatlal — Ajay’s only brother — lives on the same floor, which was divided between the family because of the internal dispute. Ajay stayed with his mother Madhuri in one half and Atulya stayed with his now estranged wife Sheetal in the other, with both the “factions” sharing a common living area. The suit filed by Jhaveri and Taktawala as “heirs of Ajay Mafatlal” is directed against Atulya and Kunti — a resident of Mayfair building at Malabar Hill.
It reads, “The plaintiffs are constrained to prefer the present proceedings against the defendants (Atulya and Kunti), their agents, servants and employees since the plaintiffs apprehend that pending the hospitalisation of Ajay Yogindra Mafatlal, or immediately thereafter, the defendants their agents, servants and employees would take forcible possession and occupation of the movable and immovable assets of Ajay Yogindra Mafatlal.”
The suit continues, “The plaintiffs submit that Ajay Mafatlal never intended and would never intend that even a small fraction of his said suit assets be enjoyed by the defendants in any manner whatsoever during his life time or upon his demise.”
It later on adds, “The only desire is that the said suit assets of Mr Ajay Mafatlal be protected for his use and enjoyment during his lifetime and in a worst case scenario upon his demise be put to use and enjoyment by any person/legal entity whom Mr Ajay Mafatlal may have chosen by making his last will and testament or in its absence by the law of succession governing him.”
The suit and an application seeking urgent relief ask for a court receiver or court commissioner to be appointed, after which Jhaveri and Taktawala be accepted as agents of the court receiver/ commissioner so that no one disturbs the belongings valued at about Rs 1.10 cr in the suit. It provides a detailed list of cases between the two factions to spell out the acrimony.
The suit says that after he was hospitalised (on July 30), Ajay instructed Jhaveri and Taktawala to post guards in his portion of the house to protect his assets as well as belongings, since there was no one occupying that portion. On August 4, three people in plainclothes, claiming to be from the Mumbai Police’s crime branch, visited the Breach Candy Hospital, making enquiries about the whereabouts of Ajay Mafatlal and in fact managed to reach his bed outside the usual visiting hours of the ICU, allegedly without any documentation from the hospital.
The suit further alleges that later on August 9, Atulya made a “false and frivolous complaint” with the Gamdevi police station about the presence of security guards inside the bungalow and asked for removal of those guards “through police” though they were posted “only to protect the movable and immovable assets of Ajay in the house”.