A Magistrate court in Mumbai on Saturday issued a notice to Tata Sons chairman emeritus Ratan Tata and other directors of Tata Sons in a criminal defamation case filed by Nusli Wadia, chairman of the Wadia Group.
The matter relates to the events of 2016 following the acrimonious ouster of the then Tata Group chairman Cyrus Mistry. At that time, Wadia who was then an independent director in a number of Tata Group companies had sought Mistry's re-appointment. Advocate Abad Ponda, the counsel of Nusli Wadia, in a case filed in December 2016, had alleged that Ratan Tata and Tata Sons directors including Ralf Speth, Ajay Piramal, Ishaat Hussain, Natarajan Chandrasekaran (the current Tata Group chairman), Nitin Nohria, Ranendra Sen, Vijay Singh, Venu Srinivasan, Amit Chandra, and FN Subedar had made defamatory statements against his client, in reference to the special notice that Tata Sons had issued to remove Wadia as independent director.
As per the complaint, Tata Sons had alleged that Nusli Wadia had acted against the interests of the Tata Group and was acting in consort with the former manager (Mistry) to cause harm to the Tata Group despite holding the position of independent director on the boards of a number of Tata group companies. Additionally, Tata Sons had also accused Wadia of acting "without bonafides and putting the future of Tata Steel and its employees in grave jeopardy," it read.
At that time, Wadia had put forth his long association with the Tata group of companies including Tata Steel and had warned that if the group didn't withdraw the special notice then he would consider that it had been made in an effort to defame him without any evidence or proof.
In response to the summons, a Tata Sons spokesperson said, "All due processes were followed in relation to Nusli Wadia's removal. Tata Sons, in exercise of its statutory rights, validly issues a "special notice" seeking his removal. While Mr Wadia has alleged that the contents of the special notice were defamatory, the matter is currently sub-judice and Tata Sons strongly denies such allegations."
The next hearing in the matter is scheduled for March 25, 2019.