Nusli Wadia filed a defamation suit in December 2016 after he was removed as independent director from three Tata companies for ‘acting against the group’s interests’.

Defamation case SC tells Nusli Wadia and Ratan Tata to talk it out resolve issues
Money Tata vs Mistry Tuesday, January 07, 2020 - 16:05

The Supreme Court has asked Ratan Tata and Nusli Wadia to settle the dispute between them in a defamation case filed by Wadia against Tata.

Nusli Wadia was removed from the boards of a few Tata Group companies in 2016 as an independent director. He then took Ratan Tata and the other directors of the companies to court for defamation by removing him. The case relates to the removal of Cyrus Mistry as the Executive Chairman of the Tata Group. Nusli Wadia took Mitry’s side and issued statements that the removal was wrong.

According to the Economic Times report, at the Supreme Court, a three-judge bench, led by the Chief Justice, Justice SA Bobde was hearing the case and while CA Sundaram was the senior lawyer representing Nusli Wadia, Ratan Tata was represented by Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

“Can you not settle it? You are both mature people. Why can’t you end this? You are both leaders in your own right,” Bobde reportedly said.

The judges told both of them to go back and return on Monday, January 13, 2020 with their response to the suggestion that they sort the issue out among themselves. The Chief Justice said they are both leaders in their own right and mature enough to talk it out.

At that juncture, Ratan Tata had addressed a communication to the shareholders of Tata Chemicals, Tata Steel and Tata Motors, where Wadia was an independent director explaining why Wadia had to be removed from the boards of their companies.

This communication is at the centre of this legal battle where Nusli Wadia has said that his reputation has been sullied in the communication and he should be compensated by Rs 3,000 crore.

The case was first filed in the Bombay High Court by Wadia but was dismissed there. The plea taken by Ratan Tata in the Bombay High Court was that the communication to the shareholders had to be made public as mandated under Companies Act and SEBI regulations. The court accepted this plea. Hence this appeal in the apex court by Wadia.  

Nusli Wadia has filed his defamation suit against a host of directors of the Tata Group, apart from Ratan Tata. These include the current Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran, who succeeded Cyrus Mistry, and board members Ajay Piramal, Ranendra Sen, Vijay Singh, Venu Srinivasan, Ralf Speth and FN Subedar.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is set to hear the petition by Ratan Tata in the Cyrus Mistry case where his removal in 2016 has since been set aside by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLAT).

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