South Point Trustee Damani returns home on grant of bail by Apex Court

South Point Trustee Damani returns home on grant of bail by Apex Court(2) : Supreme Court order granting bail to Damani, Trustee of South Point implemented(3) : Lodha’s bid to retain Damani in custody foiled(4) Apex Court nixed Lodha’s attempt to incarcerate Trustee, K. Damani for custody trial.In a significant development, the Hon’ble Apex Court on Monday granted bail to Mr. Krishna Damani, a Trustee and Secretary of South Point Education Society. The Apex Court observed that the alleged offences were all triable by the Court of the Magistrate. Pursuant to filing of the charge sheet, considering the nature of alleged offences, there was no reason to deny bail to Mr. Damani observed the Bench of Justice A.S. Oka and Justice S.C. Sharma. Dr. Abhishek M. Singhvi, Mr. Mukul Rohatgi and Mr. Mahesh Jethmalani, Senior Counsels appeared for Mr. Damani. The Apex Court during the hearing also expressed its surprise that the High Court rejected bail in such a matter. It further mentioned that such a situation has arisen only because two powerful private parties were fighting referring to the Birla-Lodha tussle and Mr. Damani is being used as a pawn. It expressed its anguish over the very sorry state of affairs stating that even such matters were travelling upto the highest Court for relief. Mr. Damani was released on bail on the 28th of May by the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (I/C), following the Apex Court’s directive. The decision comes as a huge relief for Mr. Damani who suffered for over three months in custody in a false and frivolous case filed by a stooge of Harsh Vardhan Lodha purely on account of malice, vendetta and vengeance. Upon his release, Mr. Damani’s advocates stated that the allegations against Mr. Damani and other senior executives of the M.P. Birla Group are false and concocted, with the malicious intent to illegally usurp control of the properties of Late Smt. Priyamvada Devi Birla, including institutions like South Point School, Belle Vue Clinic, M.P. Birla Planetarium, M.P. Birla School, and Bombay Hospital. This is evident from the various actions of Mr. Lodha in the past few months when Mr. Damani was in the custody. Mr. Damani’s advocates also highlighted that his arrest was conducted with undue haste and without following due procedure of law. The complaint lodged at the behest of Harsh Vardhan Lodha, a former Trustee of the Society, alleged financial irregularities at South Point School on account of Ghost Teachers, which is nothing but false allegation. However, it has been pointed out that the said complaint relates to contracts which have been in operation for over 24 years with due approvals of
the Managing Committee. Interestingly Mr. Lodha and his father RS Lodha were themselves Trustees and signed the annual accounts of the Society for many years when the contracts were subsisting. This case has been maliciously initiated by Lodha consequent to the larger ongoing dispute involving the estate of Late Smt. Priyamvada Devi Birla, which has been sub judiced since 2004. Harsh Vardhan Lodha, one of the claimants under an alleged will of 1999, has raised the dispute almost two years after ceasing to be associated with South Point and various other M.P. Birla Group entities following an order by the Hon’ble Calcutta High Court in 2020. Following Mr. Damani’s arrest, Mr. Lodha, along with his associates, launched hastened efforts to grab the control and management of South Point Education Society and other M.P. Birla Group institutions. However, these attempts have been challenged and are now pending before different judicial fora. Justice Kalpesh S. Jhaveri (Retd), former Chief Justice of Orissa High Court and current President and Trustee of South Point Education Society, has welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision and expressed confidence that the truth shall prevail despite adverse forces acting against Mr. Damani and justice has and shall always prevail. The South Point Education Society also remains hopeful that justice will continue to be served and that the integrity and legacy of their institutions will be upheld. Mr. Damani’s next Court appearance is scheduled for June 3, 2024.

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