Mumbai: The magistrate court in Mumbai on Saturday issued notice to Ratan Tata and other directors of Tata Sons in a criminal defamation case filed by Nusli Wadia. In the order passed on Saturday the court noted that statements made in extraordinary general meeting notices and news items were defamatory in nature.

These people will need to appear before the court on 25 March 2019.

In December 2016 industrialist Nusli Wadia had filed a criminal complaint against Ratan Tata and the board of directors of the Tata group holding company Tata Sons for allegedly defaming him.

In the defamation suit Wadia stated that the Tata group defamed him by saying that he was acting against the interests of the group.

The court in the order observed that suit had the three essential ingredients, that is making or publishing any imputation concerning any person, such imputation must have been by words either spoken or intended to be read or by signs or by visible representation and, the said imputation must have been made with intention to harm or with knowledge or having reason to believe that it will harm the reputation of the person concerned.

“Statements made in special notices (for removal of Wadia), news items are the defamatory statements and on the other hand in spite of issuance of letters, accused persons failed to give satisfactory explanation as on what basis they made such statement," said the order.

From the documents it appears that news item and allegation of the accused in newspapers and statements in the special notices might come within the meaning of defamation as per section 499 of the Indian Penal Code.

The charges of criminal defamation are tried under Sections 499, 500 and 501 of Indian Penal Code. The punishment of an offence under Section 500 is simple imprisonment for a term that may extend to two years and may also include a fine.

“The removal of Mr. Nusli Wadia as independent director of Tata Companies. All due processes were followed in relation to his removal. Tata Sons had, in exercise of its statutory rights, validly issued 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." Said a spokesperson for Tata Sons.

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