Mumbai, Dec 23: Hours after his removal as an Independent Director of Tata Motors, eminent industrialist Nusli N. Wadia on Friday filed a criminal defamation suit against Tata Sons, Ratan Tata and its directors. The suit has been filed before the court of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Ballard Pier 36th Court through his lawyer Abad Ponda. It has come barely a week after he filed a defamation suit seeking Rs 3,000 crore as damages from the Tata Group and others.
In the criminal suit, Wadia has alleged that all the accused have individually and collectively defamed him by printing, publishing and distributing per se false, frivolous, baseless, libelous, incorrect and defamatory material to tarnish his reputation and image among right thinking people. He added that the Special Notices, seeking his ouster from three Tata Group companies, were sent on the letterhead of Tata Sons, signed by its COO and Company Secretary F. N. Subedar and hence the accused named were liable for printing, publishing and circulating the per se defamatory material.
He said that while the accused No. 2-11 were directors on the board of Tata Sons and responsible for the contents of the Special Notices on the instructions of the Board of Directors of Tata Sons, excluding Cyrus Mistry and Farida Khambatta. “It is thus clear that Tata Sons is the principal offender who has committed the offence of defamation along with F.N. Subedar, while the Board Members of Tata Sons (excluding Cyrus Mistry and Farida Khambatta) have shared common intention of abetted the offence by actively participating in the same after a prior concern and have thus committed offences under various sections (500, 109, 34) of the Indian Penal Code,” the suit said.
Wadia prayed to the court for taking cognizance of the offences committed by the accused named in the suit under the specified IPC sections which are punishable with simple imprisonment of upto two years plus fine, or both.
Wadia sought for process to be issued against the named accused in this connection and that they should be directed to pay compensation as per Section 357 of the Criminal Procedure Code. He also demanded that the accused be directed to pay the costs of the litigation in the present complaint and any other or further reliefs deemed fit and proper by the court. Wadia becomes the second eminent personality connected to the Tata Group who had dragged the Tata Group to court in the ongoing imbroglio.
Last Tuesday, former ousted Tata Sons Chairman Cyrus Mistry filed a petition with the National Company Law Tribunal, Mumbai, under the Companies Act alleging “oppressions and mismanagement” in the Tata Sons. In the past three days, Wadia has been voted out as Independent Director from the boards of Tata Steels, Tata Chemicals and Tata Motors. Earlier on December 16, Wadia had moved the Bombay High Court which declined relief to four minority shareholders of three Tata Group companies seeking a stay on the promoters from voting on a resolution to remove him (Wadia) as Independent Director, at the extraordinary general meetings between December 21-23. However, Justice S. J. Kathawala had barred the three companies filling up the vacancy on their boards till further orders in the matter and postponed the matter for further and final hearing on February 6.