Nusli Wadia (Photo: Mint)
Nusli Wadia (Photo: Mint)

Opinion | Wadia vs Tata: jaw-jaw beats law-law

Bombay Dyeing chairman Nusli Wadia in SC withdrew all defamation cases, including 3,000 cr suit for damages against Ratan Tata, others

On the advice of the Chief Justice of India, two of the country’s most famous businessmen have decided to settle their dispute and sort out matters on their own, it seems. Nusli Wadia, who presides over a biscuits-to-aviation empire, has withdrawn a criminal defamation suit against Tata Sons and its board members and executives, including Ratan Tata. In doing so, he forgoes a potential 3,000 crore that he had sought in reputational damages.

The case dates back to 2016. In his suit, Wadia had alleged that he was fired from the boards of three Tata Group companies for backing Cyrus Mistry, who was ousted as Tata Sons’ executive chairman in October that year, resulting in much acrimony between the anti- and pro-Mistry camps. Wadia had the reputation of a corporate samurai, having fought several high-profile legal battles, and so few expected him to walk away from the Tata Group quietly, not after Mistry was accused of poor performance—a charge that he presumably felt would reflect on him too.

Yet, a cooling off seems in the air. It looks clear that Mistry shall not return to the Tata Group in any leadership role; nor does he want to, as he has stated. Corporate observers do have opinions on whether Mistry’s ouster was justified or not, but it would be fair to say that Wadia’s image did not get sullied in the whole fracas. This was on account of his independent stature as a business leader. All considered, it is a good sign that Wadia has decided not to pursue the case further.

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