Ratan Tata, Tata Sons directors summoned in Nusli Wadia's defamation suit

A local court has issued summons to Tata Trusts Chairman Ratan Tata and Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran, along with others, in a defamation suit filed by Wadia Group Chairman Nusli Wadia.

The notices were issued by the 38th Magistrate Court at Ballard Pier, Mumbai, last Saturday. The court has posted the matter for hearing on March 25, 2019.

The directors of Tata Sons who have been summoned are Ajay Piramal, Amit Chandra, Ishaat Hussain, Nitin Nohria, Ranendra Sen, Vijay Singh, Venu Srinivasan, Ralf Speth, and F N Subedar.

Abad Ponda said after the removal of Cyrus Mistry as Tata Sons chairman, all the people named above had made several defamatory allegations against his client.

On Monday evening, a Tata Sons spokesperson said, “All due processes were followed in relation to his (Wadia’s) 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.”

Tata Sons had alleged Wadia was acting against the interests of the Tata group and in concert with a former manager in order to cause harm to the group, despite being an independent director on the boards of a few Tata companies.

Tata Sons had also accused Wadia of “acting without bonafides and putting the future of Tata Steel and its employees in grave jeopoardy.”

Ratan Tata, Chandra and the other Tata Sons board members will face proceedings under Sections 499, 500, and 501 under the 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 accused will have to appear before the magistrate and seek bail from the court at its next hearing. Wadia filed a criminal defamation case against Tata Sons and its then interim Chairman Ratan Tata and various directors on December 23, 2016, following up on a Rs 33-billion defamation suit he had filed on December 16.

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