A hearing at the Royal Court of Justice on Tuesday brought the rift between the Hinduja brothers out in the open. The Hinduja brothers -- Srichand, Gopichand, Prakash, and Ashok Hinduja -- are now battling it out for their $11.2 billion fortune. At the crux of the legal dispute is a letter from 2014 that the patriarch Srichand and his daughter Vinoo seek to declare as null and void. The other three brothers are fighting to ensure that the contents of the letter are not revocable, among other things.
Here's all you need to know about the Hinduja brothers feud:
1. A letter dated June 2, 2014 states that the assets held by one brother belong to all the brothers and that each of them would appoint the others as their executors. However, trouble started brewing in 2016 when Srichand expressed that the 2014 agreement does not reflect his wishes and that his and his family's assets must be separated.
2. During the hearing at the Royal Court of Justice, Justice Falk said in the judgment that in 2018 the three brothers tried to use the letter to take control of the Hinduja Bank that is in the sole name of Srichand. The basis of the tussle was that the three brothers believed that Srichand lacked capacity.
3. In 2019, Srichand had approached the Business and Property Court in London and sought to declare the letter revocable. Gopichand, Prakash and Ashok had opposed this as well as the fact that Srichand was represented in the court by his daughter Vinoo.
4. The three brothers argued that Vinoo has her own separate financial interest in pursuing the case and that an independent solicitor should represent Srichand.
5. Meanwhile, Srichand's wife Madhu and the other daughter Shanu appeared as witnesses to vouch that Vinoo has been appointed to represent her father in the court proceedings (litigation friend). Justice Falk was told that Srichand suffers from "age-related disease".
6. Justice Falk confirmed that Vinoo is Srichand's litigation friend. She said that the defendants might hold the view that Vinoo has shown disregard for Srichand's best interest but "Vinoo and other members of SP's immediate family, whom he has chosen to appoint as his attorneys, are in a better position to judge this than the persons against whom the proceedings are being taken."
7. Gopichand, Prakash and Ashok said in a statement that the litigation would have no impact on their business and that the proceedings go against their founder's and family values. "We intend to defend the claim to uphold these dearly held family values," they said.
8. Last week Srichand's family consolidated their position in the Hinduja Bank. Shanu Hinduja's son, 29-year-old Karam Hinduja took over as CEO last week. Moreover, Shanu Hinduja is the Chairperson of the bank and Srichand Hinduja is the Chairman Emeritus. As of 2018, Switzerland-based Hinduja Bank had total assets of 343 million Swiss francs or Rs 2,744 crore.
9. The fight over the control of Hinduja Bank is part of multiple litigation that the four brothers are fighting in the UK court as well as in New Jersey and Switzerland.
10. The dispute is likely to have implications for the Hinduja's businesses in India as well. The Switzerland-based bank owns close to 5 per cent in Ashok Leyland, controlled by Hinduja Group's automotive unit. The value of shares is around Rs 800 crore.