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Bombay HC allows Ratan Tata’s plea to quash defamation suit in lower court

In a major relief to Ratan Tata and others, the division bench of the Bombay High Court has quashed the defamation suit filed by Nusli Wadia in the lower court.

On Monday, the division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Bharati Dangre, in an oral order allowed the petition filed by Ratan Tata and other board members of the Tata Sons.

In March, this year, Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus, Tata Sons, and other members of the Tata Group had moved the Bombay High Court to quash the two-year-old criminal defamation case filed by Bombay Dyeing Chairman Nusli Wadia in a trial court.

While, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who appeared for the Tatas along with, Mohan Parasaran and Amit Desai, argued that the defamation case filed against them is due to the fallout of a corporate dispute and the entire case is filed with complete non-application of mind.

“The November 26 letters and minutes of meetings that were circulated by Tata Sons to its group companies only sought for Wadia’s removal as he was acting against the company’s interest,” argued Singhvi during the course of the arguments.

Wadia in his complaint in the magistrate court has accused Ratan Tata and others of making a defamatory statement against him after they removed Cyrus Mistry on October 24, 2016, as the group chairman of Tata Sons.

Apart from Tata and N Chandrasekaran, chairman of the Tata Sons, and other board members of the group including Ajay Piramal, Ranendra Sen, Vijay Singh, Venu Srinivasan, Ralf Speth and F N Subedar, the then group chief operating officer, were also named along with a few others in the defamation case.

Earlier, the division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Bharati Dangre had reserved the order on June 11 after hearing arguments from both the sides.

In December 2016 Wadia had filed a criminal complaint against Tata and the board of directors of the Tata Group holding company, Tata Sons, for allegedly defaming him. In the defamation suit, Wadia stated that the Tata group defamed him by saying that he was acting against the interests of the group.

Wadia was voted out from the boards of some Tata group companies and he claimed that Tata and others had made defamatory statements against him after they removed Cyrus Mistry as the group chairman of Tata Sons on October 24, 2016.

Nitesh Jain, partner of law firm Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co (SAM & Co) along with Zulfiqar Memon of MZM Legal are advising the Tatas in the case, while Abad Ponda, counsel along with law firm Dastur Kalambi & Associate are advising Wadia in the case.

Source: Economic Times