January 06, 2020

SC Urges Tata-Wadia Talk To Settle Defamation Case

[ By Bobby Anthony ]


The Supreme Court has suggested that Nusli Wadia and Ratan Tata should talk to settle their issues in a defamation case related to the removal of Cyrus Mistry as chairman of the Tata Group.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde, comprising Justice B R Gavai and Justice Surya Kant, observed that the court is not aware of what is the reason behind these allegations. “Both of you should talk,” the Chief Justice of India said.

However, the Supreme Court also insisted that the suggestion is merely a view, since it is not on law in this matter.

Earlier, Wadia had initiated criminal defamation proceedings after his removal as an independent director of a Tata company, after Cyrus Mistry was removed as chairman.

Tata had consistently maintained that there was no intention to defame. Senior advocate C A Sundaram told the Supreme Court that his client is willing to withdraw the case if the opposite party withdraws the allegations.

The Chief Justice attempted to broker peace between Wadia and Tata and suggested that the Supreme Court may approve the findings of the Bombay High Court that Tata had no intention to defame Wadia.

The Chief Justice queried Wadia's counsel, “The other party has some grievance in connection with you, and they can act according to the law. How does that amount to defamation?”

Wadia’s counsel insisted that his case is not against the company, but against the people who issued a special resolution requisitioning a meeting and sent the details to the media.

Since the Supreme Court was in the middle of passing an order on the matter, Wadia's lawyer stated that there is a pending suit. The Chief Justice reiterated that the Supreme Court's intention is to finish the matter. Wadia's counsel stated that he needs to take instructions from his client and the court adjourned the case.

The Bombay High Court had quashed proceedings initiated by a local court against Tata Sons' former chairman Ratan Tata along with its current chairman N. Chandrasekaran and eight directors of the firm in a criminal defamation case filed by Nusli Wadia.

In December 2018, a magistrate court in Mumbai had issued notices to Ratan Tata and the others in the case filed by Wadia in 2016 after he was voted out of the boards of some Tata Group companies.

Tata and others moved the High Court seeking to quash and set aside proceedings in the case.

Later, a division bench comprising Justice Ranjit More as well as Justice Bharati Dangre quashed and set aside the proceedings in July 2019.

Senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Ratan Tata, submitted before the court that the defamation case was a result of a fallout in a corporate dispute.

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