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New twist in Mombasa tycoon's property dispute

By Bernard Sanga | May 15th 2020

Two siblings of the late Mombasa business mogul Dalip Singh Dhanjal have locked out their late brother's widow and son from inheriting their father's empire.

According to court documents, Rajpal Singh Dhanjal died on October 25, 2006, and left behind a widow, Inderpal Kaur Dhanjal, and a son, Jasdev Singh Dhanjal.

Initially, according to court papers, the late Rajpal’s brother, Nirmal Singh Dhanjal, acquired letters of administration as the sole surviving heir of Dalip.

On January 21, 2016, a sister Jaswinder Kaur Koundu emerged and sued Nirmal Singh Dhanjal seeking orders to revoke the grant of administration issued to him.

In her application, Jaswinder demanded to get half of their father’s estates from Nirmal, which in essence left out the late Rajbal widow and son from the multi-billion empire.

Mombasa High Court Judge said that by consent entered on November 26, 2018 a fresh grant was issued to Jaswinder and Nirmal as joint administrators of their father's empire.

“By consent of the parties, the Court on November 26, 2018, revoked the grant issued to Nirmal and a fresh grant was issued to Jaswinder and Nirmal,” states Justice Thande.

This emerged in a ruling where the three siblings’ cousins, Mrs. Sukhwant Kaur Dhanjal Kundi and Joginder Singh sought to be enjoined in a suit over Rajpal’s inheritance.

In her sworn affidavit, Sukhwant desired to be enjoined in the suit saying his late father Jaswant Singh Boor Dhanjal and the late Dalip co-owned the properties under dispute.

She informed the court that the late Dalip (her uncle) had another son who died and left behind a widow and son who Nirmal and Jaswinder wanted, knowingly, to disinherit.

“From Sukwant’s affidavit, it emerged that the deceased (Dalip) had not 2 but 3 children,” said Justice Thande in a ruling delivered on May 5, this year.

Added the Judge: “Sukhwant has also claimed that she assisted the Court by bringing to its attention the existence of the widow and child of Rajpal. She also says that she has informed the Court of the property of the estate in the United Kingdom.”

Nirmal Singh Dhanjal opposed the application saying Sukwant and Joginder wanted to be enjoined “for the sole purpose of applying to be appointed administrators (of Dalip’s properties).”

“They are yet to administer, distribute and settle the estate of their late father and it is ambitious of them to delve into the administration of another estate,” said Nirmal, according to the ruling.

The two deceased Asian patriarchs, Dalip and Jaswant, died in 2010 and 2004, respectively. They jointly owned properties in Kenya and the United Kingdom.

After their death, their siblings have for over a decade been engaged in court battles in Kenya and UK over the properties estimated to be worth over Sh15 billion.

The late Jawant’s siblings Sukhwant, Joginder, Jaspal, Surjit, and Daljit have since by court consent agreed to share the properties.

This is after a court battle over Daljit Singh Dhanjal’s decision to illegally usurp the role of a sole administrator of their father’s estate, intermeddling by disposing of some of their father's assets and shares, ultimately forcing the other siblings to move to court to contest it.

Some of the properties Jawant’s siblings agreed to share are Dhanjal Brothers Ltd, Express Holdings Ltd, Whitehard Holdings Ltd, Merry Field (UK) Ltd, Dhanjal Investments Ltd, among other properties and shares in companies in Kwale, Kilifi, Mombasa and 12 others in the UK.

On the late Dalip’s side, it emerged that Nirmal Singh Dhanjal also, illegally, took over the control of his late father’s property, mainly claiming ownership of Travellers Beach Hotel, disinheriting the other sibling and the widow of Rajpal.

On January 21, 2016, his sister Jaswinder Kaur Koundu moved to court to seek orders to revoke the grant saying she was entitled to half of the estate of their father, the late Dalip.

In 2018, however, Sukhwant and Joginder sought to be enjoined as interested party in the suit between Nirmal and Jaswinder accusing the two of trying to disinherit their late brother (Rajpal).

In the court, Sukhwant argued that the estate of the deceased is intertwined with that of her father as Dalip (her Uncle) and her father (Jaswant) held some properties jointly.

According to justice Thande, the court appreciates that Sukhwant has made it aware that the deceased had a son, Rajpal, who died leaving a widow, Inderpal, and a son, a fact which both Nirmal and Jaswinder carefully concealed from the court.

On May 5, Justice Thande, however, dismissed Sukhwant's application advising her to file for the revocation of the grant issued to Nirmal and Jaswinder and thereafter apply for administration of the estate of her late uncle.

“According to the Act, the procedure available to Sukhwant to achieve her desire is to apply in the prescribed procedure and form for the revocation of the existing grant and for the making of a grant to her and Joginder. The present application is therefore inappropriate for achieving her goal,” ruled Justice Thande.

Nirmal has been ordered to file an affidavit within 30 days setting out his dealings with the estates' shares and properties.

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