This could well go down the history as one of the most irresponsible statements by a corporate chief. Yash Birla group’s Birla Lifesciences has a cook and a domestic help as directors, and the group’s chairman Yash Birla has said he was not even aware of their appointments.
According to reports in The Times of India and Mumbai Mirror, the industrialist made these statements in front of the Mumbai High Court, which is hearing a case against the company’s warehouse in Bhiwandi, near Mumbai. The court had in August ordered winding up of the company in response to a petition filed by advertising agency Saatchi and Saatchi.
“Who made your cook and servant directors of your company?”' Justice S J Kathawalla was quoted as asking Yash Birla in the ToI report.
He replied, “Not me.”
The judge asked whether he was aware of their appointments, to which he, interestingly, replied, “Yes, I am now.” This meant he was not aware of it earlier. He also told the court that his executives made the appointments.
The directors in question are his cook Chiranjibi Puri and domestic help Dinesh Pandit. Both of them have studied till fifth and sixth standard respectively, can’t speak English and they never attended a board meeting in the last six-seven months since their appointments. Another director of the company, Ashish Mahendrakar, is Yash Birla’s manager of 12-13 years.
Justifying his ignorance about their appointments, the group chairman told the court that they were made the directors after he quit. But the court was not ready to buy the argument. The judge pointed out that it was only in September 2014 that Birla had sent his resignation, which he claims to have happened in June 2013, to the registrar of companies.
“Do you really want the court to believe this story? Do even your counsels believe this?” the Mumbai Mirror report quotes the judge as asking. The court told the industrialist that his objective seemed to have been to absolve himself of his liabilities by appointing his cook, domestic help and manager the directors of his companies.
Coming down heavily on Yash Brila, the judge told him to learn to speak the truth. “Simply hiring senior counsels is not going to help you.”
Birla said he would do whatever the court wants him to and was told to give a statement of affairs of the company to the liquidator.
The petition was filed by the landlord of a warehouse in Thane, J Z Savla, over the company's material stored in it. Savla moved the court after he got a notice from the gram panchayat about a bad odour emanating from the warehouse and sought to get his land back.
Birla Research and Life Sciences had been in financial trouble for some time. Saatchi and Saatchi had filed a winding up petition with the high court after the company failed to pay up its dues. The court in August ordered liquidation of the company. Karnataka Bank had in the same month attached Yash Birla’s 2000 square feet three-bedroom flat in tony Napean Sea Road in Mumbai in a bid to recover its loans worth Rs 14.5 crore.
Updated Date: Feb 10, 2015 20:40:57 IST