A major legal battle has broken out in the family of late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray in connection with his estate. A probate petition has been filed by Thackeray’s son Uddhav, who now heads the party, in the Bombay high court along with four others — Sena leader and lawyer Anil Parab, former Sena MP and noted lawyer Adhik Shirodkar, architect Shashi Prabhu and Ravindra Mhatre who was personal assistant to the late leader.
The petition has been strongly contested by Bal Thackeray’s second son, Jaidev, who has questioned the veracity of the will. Jaidev has maintained that his father could not have signed the will in view of his several health problems which resulted in “cognitive dysfunction.” Thackeray has not left a farthing for either Jaidev or the family of his late son, Bindumadhav. Thackeray had three sons — Bindumadhav (who died in a road accident), Jaidev and Uddhav.
In his petition, Uddhav has said that the properties and bank deposits willed by his father are valued at Rs14.85 crore. However, Jaidev has contended that the ‘Matoshree’ bungalow in Bandra (East), where his father lived, was alone worth Rs40 crore. He said it was his belief that there were several other properties, bank deposits, ornaments, etc, which were worth several crores of rupees, but there is no mention of them in the probate petition.
A probate petition is filed to get the will of a deceased person certified by a court of competent jurisdiction. A probate is granted with the court seal and has a copy of the will attached to it. dna has copies of Uddhav’s probate petition and the caveat and detailed affidavit filed by Jaidev.
Uddhav and other petitioners have attached a copy of the will purportedly signed by the late leader in the presence of two witnesses, Dr Jalil Parkar, a lung specialist who attended to the Sena chief for several years, and advocate Flanian D’souza of Bandra. Bal Thackeray, who died on November 17, 2012, had signed his will on December 13, 2011. A copy of the will which is attached with Uddhav’s petition says that Thackeray Sr had appointed Uddhav, Adhik Shirodkar, Anil Parab, Shashi Prabhu and Ravindra Mhatre as the executors of the will.
In his will, Thackeray says: “I have all the love and affection for my son, Jaidev whom I consider to be a brilliant boy. Unfortunately, Jaidev has led a rebellious life. Several years ago, Jaidev, on his own accord left ‘Matoshree’. Jaidev and his wife Smita have divorced and Jaidev resides elsewhere with his present wife. All this has hurt me a lot and has made me decide not to leave any part of my estate to him.”
Thackeray further states: “My son, Uddhav, has been a great source of strength to me and has always been by my side, especially in times of my illness. It makes me very happy to know that Uddhav is always concerned about me and is constantly there to take care of me. Uddhav was also instrumental in the construction of Matoshree. It is my desire that Uddhav lives a peaceful life. I do not desire that Uddhav’s peace of mind be disturbed by bickering among my daughters-in-law. I put the responsibility on Uddhav to ensure that peace and harmony is maintained in my family. I am confident that Uddhav will act in a responsible and mature manner and maintain cordiality in the Thackeray family.”
Thackeray has bequeathed the entire first floor of Matoshree bungalow to his grandson, Aishvarya, who is the son of his former daughter-in-law, Smita (divorced wife of Jaidev). According to the will, Smita has been debarred from residing in the bungalow. However, she has been permitted to visit Aishvarya. Smita, who lives in a bungalow in Juhu, is also required to bear all the expenses involved in maintaining the first floor.
The Sena leader has further stated in his will that “I had every intention of giving the second floor of the bungalow Matoshree to my grandson, Nihar Bindumandhav. However, the strange beliefs and erratic behaviour of my daughter-in-law, Madhavi, coupled with the influence that she has over Nihar has convinced me that peace and harmony in Matoshree and Uddhav’s peace of mind will be disturbed if Nihar is given the second floor of Matoshree. Therefore, with a heavy heart, I have decided not to give the second floor of Matoshree to Nihar. The second floor of Matoshree shall be used only by Uddhav along with my grandsons, Aditya and Tejas, and as a study hall. No other relatives are entitled to visit the second floor....”
The third floor has also been given entirely to Uddhav. The ground floor, which has also been given to Uddhav along with the land on which the bungalow is situated, is to be used for social and political meetings of the Shiv Sena. Uddhav has also been given a plot of land in Bhandardara and the farmhouse at Karjat. All the residual properties will also go to Uddhav.
Jaidev has urged the court not to grant the probate since the very veracity of the will was doubtful. He has noted that his father dedicated his entire life to the cause of Marathi and Marathi manoos.
Hence, it is inconceivable that he would have dictated his will in English and then signed in Marathi. He said Thackeray senior continued to be affectionate towards him and both of them used to be in touch with each other even after he (Jaidev) moved out of Matoshree. He said it was inconceivable that his father would not have left anything for him. Jaidev said ideally, his father’s estate - which should have included the assets of Saamna, a Marathi daily of the Sena, and Shiv Sena Bhavan - should have been divided one-third each between himself, Uddhav and the family of Bindumadhav. He has also explained that his estrangement with Smita commenced just before 1995. He found her “overtly ambitious” and the bickerings between them grew over the years.
Significantly, Jaidev has stated that “...during the period (of stay) at Matoshree, I noticed certain unusual things that occurred, which were shocking but for the sake of bygones, I shall restrict myself in not raking the issue of a personal nature before this hon’ble court and the public.”
Elsewhere, Jaidev has stated that after the Shiv Sena came to power, he purchased an apartment at Kalina and asked Smita to move into the new house along with their child. “...she bluntly refused and preferred to reside with my father, which seemed absurd to me...” He said his estrangement with Smita “commenced due to certain incidents of personal nature while residing in Matoshree which I shall refrain from recalling presently...”