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Once again dispute arises over properties of Vadodara royals

When all issues seemed to have been settled between members of Vadodara’s royal family, the descendents of Sayajirao Gaekwad, a Vadodara-based real estate player has steered fresh controversy by staking claim of having right to develop certain properties of the royals including the iconic Laxmi Vilas Palace and the Mehrangarh Palace on Mumbai’s posh Juhu Tara road.

The royal family of erstwhile state of Baroda had in October 2013 ended a two-decade long battle for inheritance of property worth over Rs 20,000 crore with its estranged members including crowned Maharaja Samarjitsinh Gaekwad and his uncle Sangramsinh arriving at a settlement.

Ranjitsinh Gaekwad’s son, Samarjitsinh, retained the family’s landmark property Lakshmi Vilas Palace and 600 acres around it and the Mehrangarh Palace in Mumbai; while Sangramsinh got Indumati Palace, a majority of the family’s residential properties in Mumbai and Vadodara and estates under family’s own company Alaukik Trading Company, including bungalows and Nazarbaug Palace in Vadodara.

One C K Shah, chairman and managing director of Bheruji Estates Pvt Ltd, has approached the Gujarat High Court for arbitration in the matter of three agreements he had entered into with Sangramsinh and his family members for development of Laxmi Vilas Palace, Mehrangarh Palace and Nazarbaug Palace. Shah has claimed that Sangramsinh has refused to honour the three agreements after the royal family dispute was settled last year.

“We have approached the Gujarat High court for appointment of arbitrator in the matter as Samgramsinh has refused to honour the joint venture agreements that he and his family members had signed in March and July 1999. We want the royal family to honour the agreements for which they have been issued payment in the past,” claimed Shah addressing a press conference in Vadodara. Shah is a builder by profession and has been in the business since 1986.

When contacted Sangramsinh said that it was an old matter. “I have read out the matter in the newspapers. I do not have details as it is an old matter. I will have to pull out old papers,” Samgramsinh told Business Standard over phone, adding that he cannot comment on the issue as of now.

Shah’s son Varun, who is also director of real estate company Parshva Nirman said, “We will do everything to protect our rights. However, we want to make it clear that we do not want to harm the reputation or disrespect the royal family.” He said that approaching the high court for arbitration was the last step as the royal family had refused to honour the agreement they had entered into with his father over 15 years ago.

“The agreement in 1999 was to develop property share of Sangramsinh which was undetermined at that point of time. It was agreed that once the dispute between the royal family members is solved or settled whatever property share Sangramsinh would get will be developed by us with profit sharing of 67:33,” Varun said.

But now with the dispute between royal family members settled, both Laxmi Vilas Palace and Mehrangadh Palace has gone to Smarjitsinh with Sangramsinh relinquishing his right over the said properties. But against relinquishing his right over the two properties, Sangramsinh got other properties. Shah has now invoked the 15 year old JV agreement and staked claim to develop over the properties that Sangramsinh got against Laxmi Vilas Palace and Mehrangadh Palace.

In March 1999 C K Shah and Sangramsinh signed an memorandum of understanding for sale of Nazarbaugh Palace, which was valued at around Rs 9.35 crore at that time. Later in July 1999 they formed a joint venture firm M/s Mivihit Developers for development of Mehrangarch Palace and M/s Prasang Developers for developing Laxmi Vilas Palace respectively. According to Varun Sangramsinh was paid over Rs 50 lakh after in separate instalments after the signing of agreements in 1999.

Who is C K Shah

C K Shah is a Vadodara-based builder engaged in buying and selling of real estates. He has been very close to the Sangramsinh and other members of the royal family since over three decades. Shah was a very close to Sangramsinh and had know the royal family member for over a decade before entering into a joint venture with him in 1999. Shah’s company is having presence in Vadodara’s property development sector since 1986. His company is engaged in developing nearly million square feet of space in Vadodara city which includes luxurious residential apartments, three star hotels, commercial building, recreation facilities, duplex bungalows and townships.

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