Mumbai: Industrialist Nusli Wadia has filed a criminal complaint against Tata Sons Ltd, its interim chairman Ratan Tata and the board of directors of the Tata group holding company, for allegedly defaming him.
The complaint, filed in the court of the additional chief metropolitan magistrate at Ballard Pier in Mumbai, said Tata Sons, Ratan Tata and the board had individually and collectively defamed him by printing, publishing and circulating “false, frivolous, baseless, incorrect, libellous and defamatory material". The material refers to the special notices which were sent to shareholders on the letterhead of Tata Sons and signed by its chief operating officer F.N. Subedar summoning extraordinary general meetings to seek his removal as a director from three group companies.
“The defamatory and offending contents of the special notices have caused severe prejudice to the reputation and the goodwill of the complainant as also affected his status as an independent director not only in the Tata Group companies, but as a director in various other companies, and will continue to have a cascading effect on the complainant’s reputation and goodwill in business circles within India and abroad," the complaint said.
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Wadia, 72, is chairman of the Wadia group of companies and has been an independent director on the boards of three Tata group companies—Tata Steel Ltd, Tata Motors Ltd and Tata Chemicals Ltd.
He has been removed from the boards of Tata Steel and Tata Motors following extraordinary general meetings (EGMs) called to vote on a resolution seeking his removal. Shareholders of Tata Chemicals started to vote on a similar resolution on Friday.
Tata Sons had no immediate comment on the criminal complaint. “We cannot comment on the matter since we have not seen the petition," a Tata Sons spokesperson said in an emailed response.
Wadia’s criminal complaint follows a Rs3,000 crore civil defamation suit he filed last week against Ratan Tata and the board of directors of Tata Sons for seeking his removal from group companies on grounds that he was working in concert with Cyrus Mistry, the ousted chairman of Tata Sons.
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Mistry is fighting his own battle with Tata Sons. On Tuesday, Cyrus Investments and Sterling Investments filed a petition citing oppression of minority shareholders and mismanagement of Tata Sons.
In his complaint, a copy of which is with Mint, Wadia has prayed for cognizance of offences under the Indian Penal Code “punishable with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both". It also asks for the accused to be directed to pay compensation and the cost of litigation.
At the Tata Chemicals EGM, meanwhile, Ratan Tata thanked shareholders, saying he had been “deeply touched by the warmth and the support and the affection that they have shown".
“It has been a pleasure to be with you. It could have gone either way but your support has been overwhelming and remarkable."