January 10, 2020

SC Stays NCLAT Order Restoring Mistry As Tata Chairman

[ By Bobby Anthony ]


The Supreme Court has stayed the December 18, 2019 decision of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) to restore Cyrus Mistry as Executive Chairman of the Tata Group.

After the court heard the petition by Tata Sons Private Ltd (TSPL) challenging the NCLAT’s December 18, 2019 order, a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde, comprising Justice B R Gavai and Justice Surya Kant stated that the NCLAT seemed to have committed a basic error in adjudicating the matter, since there was no prayer made to reinstate Mistry.

“Our first impression of the NCLAT judgment is not very good. The decision suffers from basic error, and we will hear the matter in detail,” the Chief Justice of India said.

The Supreme Court observed that the NCLAT has no powers to pass such a direction.

Tata Sons, the holding company that deals with business from salt-to-software consultancy, had moved the Supreme Court challenging the reinstatement of Mistry.

The December 18 NCLAT judgment against the Tata Group had come down with a heavy hand at the prejudicial and oppressive manner in which the majority mindset of Tata Sons operated against the minority (Shapoorji Pallonji Group) and public shareholders of Tata Sons and Tata Group, respectively.

The Supreme Court observed, “You (Cyrus) have been out of the saddle for a long time. How does it hurt you today”.

The Tatas was represented through senior advocates A M Singhvi, Harish Salve, Mukul Rohatgi and Mohan Parasaran.

A heated argument broke out on the court's remark on the stay of the NCLAT’s judgment.

Senior advocate C A Sundaram, representing the company Cyrus Investment Pvt Ltd, contended that instead of staying the NCLAT judgment, the court could order status quo; and a notice could be issued with two weeks to file a reply.

Mistry's side also wanted to place a note apparently on an interim arrangement but it was not accepted by the court.

Senior advocate N K Kaul represented Mistry and senior advocate Shyam Divan represented the shareholders on Mistry's side. Mistry's side also state that “We have been sidelined completely”.

Sundaram contended before the Supreme Court bench that he was not pressing for relief in connection with the reinstatement, and that instead he was against the wrong process adopted to remove Mistry.

The Supreme Court has posted the matter after four weeks.

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