Prince Devraj Singh, grandson of one of the most beautiful and charming women in the world Gayatri Devi, says he is happy over his rightful win on his father’s ancestral properties
Prince Devraj Singh, grandson of late Rajmata of Jaipur Gayatri Devi, is happy.
After the Supreme Court ruling which paved the way for both him and his sister Lalitya Kumari to inherit their father Jagat Singh’s property the Jai Mahal Palace Hotel in particular, Devraj Singh has said in a statement: “All these years, my sister and I have only been asking for our father’s shares in the family company and nothing beyond that. Finally, I am one step further to be able to do my various duties towards my ancestral land.”
The Apex Court gave the succession rights to Gayatri Devi’s grandchildren Lalitya Kumari and Devraj Singh after a prolonged legal battle with their step uncle Prithiviraj Singh and his niece Urvashi Kumari. Prithiviraj Singh is Gayatri Devi’s stepson and Prem Kumari is his sister, who is Urvashi Kumari’s mother.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court upheld an earlier judgment by a lower court in favour of Lalitya and Devraj, saying they had been deprived of their rightful share in the Jai Mahal and Rambagh palaces and other companies.
After Gayatri Devi, who was the third wife of Sawai Man Singh II, died in 2009, an acrimonious succession battle ensued over the various luxury palaces and other properties worth crore of rupees.
Central to the dispute was the famous Jai Mahal Palace, said to be worth over Rs 1,000 crore. Traditionally owned by the Maharaja of Jaipur, it is now a heritage hotel.
Jai Mahal Palacewas gifted to Gayatri Devi’s late son Jagat Singh by his father Man Singh II. He held 99% share and 1% was held by his step brother Prithiviraj Singh.
Jagat Singh died in 1997 without leaving a will in London. When he died, his two children from his Thai princess wife Princess Priyanandana Rangsit, were minor. So their step uncle Prithviraj Singh became custodian of their property.
Later however, the grandchildren realized that their share was reduced to mere 7 % from 99% and Prithviraj himself had 93%.
The shareholding pattern was changed without informing the children, who lived in Thailand with their mother, Priyanandana.
A case was filed in the Company Law Board against the directors of Jai Mahal, stating that the late Jagat Singh used to hold 99% of the shares but it was diluted to 7% by issuing more shares. His half-brother, Privthiraj Singh now owned 93% of the company. The children approached the CLB after their grandmother Gayatri Devi did not reply to their queries about dilution.
Jagat Singh’s divorced wife, Priyanandana accused Prithiviraj Singh of robbing her children. She started legal action, claiming that the grandmother had wrongly recognised a “forged will” by Jagat Singh in which he talked of disinheriting his children and leaving everything to his mother.
While the Jagat Singh’s children said their father’s will was fake and they had made up to their grandmother, who had later bequeathed all her property to them, their step uncle Prithviraj said the will presented by Devraj was fake.
Prithviraj had also submitted a handwriting expert’s report to claim that the will presented by her grandchildren was fake.
He claimed that Gayatri Devi’s signatures on her will and an agreement letter did not match with her signatures on documents submitted earlier in the court.
Besides, Prithviraj has also challenged agreement letter of November 14, 2008 in which the late Jagat Singh’s entire property was divided into three equal parts among the Rajmata, Devraj and Lalitya.
Prithviraj and Urvashi Devi had filed a petition challenging the validity of the agreement letter. In the petition, they had made Gayatri Devi’s other two stepsons Jai Singh and late Bhawani Singh and her grandchildren Devraj and Lalitya, respondents.
The petition claimed that on the basis of this illegal agreement letter, a succession certificate was obtained even though the high court had ordered a stay on the hearing in the lower court.
In this succession certificate, Jagat Singh’s property was equally divided.
The Supreme Court’s bench, which gave the final order on Wednesday (23 Sept, 2015), was headed by Justice Anil R Dave and Adarsh Kumar Goel. The bench paved the way for Devraj and Lalitya to inherit their father Jagat Singh’s share in the royal family’s other properties as well, including Rambagh Palace Hotels Pvt Ltd, Sawai Madhopur Lodge Pvt Ltd and SMS Investment Corporation Pvt Ltd.
The apex court concluded their decision by stating that Jagat Singh had executed his will in favour of his mother Gayatri Devi and she had obtained a joint succession certificate with her grandchildren Devraj and Lalitya from a district judge in 2009.
She had also signed the transfer deeds and communicated the same to the companies’ board of directors before she died in September 2009.