The century-and-a-half-old Tata Group heaved a sigh of relief on Friday, with a ripple effect visible in the market gains made by Tata shares. The Supreme Court has stayed the 18 December order of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) that had asked for Cyrus Mistry to be restored as executive chairman of Tata Sons and held as illegal the appointment of N. Chandrasekaran in his place. The NCLAT order had thrown the group into turmoil and cast a shadow on several major decisions that its new chief had taken.

The apex court termed the tribunal’s direction to reinstate Mistry as untenable in law and inconsistent with the Companies Act, saying that it would next hear the matter after a month. To be sure, this squashes the uncertainty over the leadership of Tata Sons, even though Mistry had clarified after the NCLAT order that he didn’t wish to helm the group, just defend his family’s rights as minority shareholders.

In spite of Friday’s reprieve, the tricky issue of Tata Sons’ conversion to a private company may yet draw the case out, especially in the context of a somewhat odd provision in its Articles of Association that has a bearing on the Mistry family’s minority stake (of some 18.4%). While it would seem that the group’s majority stake holders had the right to strip Mistry of his executive role for poor performance, as it had alleged back in 2016, the secondary matter of what he can or cannot do with his family’s shares is not an open-and-shut case. We haven’t yet heard the last word on India’s most high profile corporate battle.

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