Industrialist Nusli N Wadia has filed a criminal defamation case against Tata Sons, its interim chairman Ratan Tata and some directors for alleged “defamatory and offending” contents in a special resolution moved to seek his removal from three Tata Group firms. Wadia, who has been accused of siding with ousted Tata Group chairman Cyrus P Mistry, filed the defamation suit in the court of additional chief metropolitan magistrate here.
Tata Sons’ special resolution to shareholders seeking Wadia’s removal as independent director on board of Tata Chemicals, Tata Motors and Tata Steel has “caused severe prejudice to the reputation and goodwill”, the chairman of Britannia Industries said in the suit.
This, he claimed, also “affected his status as an independent director in various other companies and will continue to have a cascading effect” on his reputation and goodwill in business circles within India and abroad.
He named Anil Naik, Chairman of Larsen & Toubro and Tanya Godrej Dubash, Executive Director of Godrej Group, as witnesses.
Others named as witness include Subhodh Bhargava, independent director of Tata Motors and Tata Steel and Vinesh Jairath, independent director at Tata Motors.
Wadia is said to have previously filed a defamation case in Bombay High Court seeking Rs 3,000 crore damages.
It is not immediately known what fate that case has met and why this case before the additional chief metropolitan magistrate was filed.
Wadia in the new case wanted the court to take cognisance of the offence under Section 500 of IPC (Defamation) and Section 500 read with Section 109 of IPC (abetment) and Section 500 read with Section 34 of IPC (criminal act with common intention) against Tata Sons and 11 other persons.
Besides Ratan Tata, who was brought back as Chairman of Tata Sons after Mistry was abruptly removed on October 24, the others named in the suit include the holding company’s directors Ajay G Piramal, Amit Ranbir Chandra, Ishaat Hussain, Nitin Nohria, Vijay Singh, Venu Srinivasan, Ralf Speth, N Chandrasekaran and Ranendra Sen.
Tata Sons Company Secretary and Chief Operating Officer F N Subedar has also been named as an accused.
After removing Mistry as head of Tata Sons –the holding company of the $103 billion salt-to-software Tata Group –the promoters have sought to remove him from boards of operating companies.
Wadia, who has openly sided with Mistry, too is being sought to be removed from boards of Tata Motors, Tata Steel and Tata Chemicals, where he is an independent director.
Tata Motors shareholders vote Wadia out of board
Shareholders of Tata Motors have overwhelmingly voted to remove independent director Nusli Wadia from the company board, the second Tata firm to remove him in as many days.
While Tata Steel shareholders removed Wadia, Chairman of Britannia Industries, on Wednesday, an extraordinary general meeting of Tata Motors on Thursday saw 71.20 per cent votes polled going against him.
As many as 146.28 crore shares out of 205.45 crore votes polled voted in favour of a resolution brought by the company's main promoter Tata Sons for removing Wadia, who has been accused of siding with the estranged chairman Cyrus P Mistry and rallying independent directors against Tata Sons. Out of 293.8 crore shareholders, 205.45 crore or 69.93 per cent participated in the voting on the resolution, according to a regulatory filing by the company. Those voting against the resolution made up for 28.80 per cent shares.
Out of the promoter group, 99.79 per cent of the 95.27 crore shares voted on the resolution. As many as 3.62 lakh or 0.04 per cent voted against the resolution. Institutional investors were almost equally split on the resolution with 50.06 per cent out of 72.93 crore such shareholders voting in favour of the resolution while 49.94 per cent voted against it.
Majority of the public shareholders, which included Mistry's family holding as well, voted against the resolution. 60.62 per cent of 37.44 crore shareholders polled, voted against the resolution.
As per the results of the voting the company filed with the exchanges late last night after a marathon extra-ordinary general meeting (EGM), only 99.96 per cent of the promoter votes were cast in favour of the resolution. This means that 0.04 per cent of the promoters shares held by Af-Taab Investment went against the motion.
Tata Chemicals and Lady Tata Memorial, which abstained from voting, together own 0.002 per cent of the total voting rights, according to the filings by Tata Motors.