Final inheritance agreement is valid: SC

Six-year Tashi company case comes to a close 

Legal: The Tashi company property case, that dragged on for six years, ended yesterday.

The Supreme Court declared the Final Inheritance Settlement Agreement (FISA) signed between the two brothers of Tashi Group of Companies (TGC), Tobgyal Dorji and Wangchuk Dorji, and their half brother Kazi Ugyen Dorji on May 6, 2007 as valid. Both the parties had asked the agreement to be rendered invalid.

“The parties have sought the approval of the Thimphu dzongkhag court before drawing up the agreement which makes it valid,” the verdict stated. “Moreover, the parties should have raised their concerns within 10 days from the date of signing the agreement.”

Kazi Ugyen Dorji’s mother and late Dasho Ugyen Dorji’s second wife, Lhaden Pem Dorji filed a legal suit on November 23, 2010.  She accused the two brothers of misrepresenting and suppressing crucial facts and information while executing the FISA.

Lhaden Pem Dorji’s legal counsel Yonten Dorji asked the court to declare the FISA null and void, and give the whole of the estate of the late father to her son, reasoning that the two brothers had fraudulently suppressed the fact that they had already received a 45 percent share of TCC as their final settlement when the late Dasho Ugyen Dorji divorced their mother, Savitri Dorji.

The court said the two brothers had received 50 percent of the shares of the company along with their mother, which was 16.66 percent each.

In 1983 an agreement was drawn where their mother surrendered her shares for money and a plot of land in Nepal.

The High Court established that the agreement had altered the final shareholding patterns of the late Dasho Ugyen Dorji from 50 to 55 percent, and that of the two brothers’ shares from 16.66 to 22.5 percent each which totals to 45 percent in the company.

In the FISA the property of late Dasho Ugyen Dorji was divided into three proportions, 36.5 percent each for Tobgyal Dorji and Wangchuk Dorji, and 27 percent for Kazi Ugyen Dorji.

The agreement also stated that since Kazi Ugyen Dorji was a minor, the two brothers would manage TGC on the condition that their brother was given the right to partake in the management once he attains 18 years of age.

The defendants challenged Kazi Ugyen Dorji’s claim to inheritance alleging that the marriage between his mother and late Dasho Ugyen Dorji was not legal.

The verdict while not accepting Lhaden Pem Dorji as the legally wedded wife in absence of a marriage certificate, stated that Kazi Ugyen Dorji should get his share as agreed by the two elder brothers in the FISA.

The Supreme Court verdict stated that the court could not accept the unsigned will of the late Dasho Ugyen Dorji as it also was not in line with the Inheritance Act and the Evidence Act.

Bench five of the dzongkhag court ordered the two brothers to pay Nu 1M in compensation for using the trade name ‘Tashi’ and good will of TGC in their new business ventures without the consent of their half brother. Both the higher courts upheld this decision of the Thimphu dzongkhag court.

The Supreme Court asked the two defendants to pay Nu 0.15 million monthly as sustenance allowance and annual vacation allowance of Nu 1 million calculated from November 23, 2010 to December 21, 2016 to Lhaden Pem Dorji as per the terms of the internal agreement with late Dasho Ugyen Dorji.

The allowances would be discontinued hereafter as submitted by the legal representative of the plaintiff, the Supreme Court verdict stated.

Tshering Palden 

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