Wadia Group chairman Nusli Wadia has filed a criminal defamation case against Tata Sons Ltd and its interim chief Ratan Tata, as he stepped up the offensive after being ousted from the board of Tata Group companies for supporting Cyrus Mistry.
Wadia filed the case in the court of a chief metropolitan magistrate in Mumbai under section 500 (defamation) and section 109 (abetment to offence) of the Indian Penal Code. If the charges are proven, the guilty can get a jail term of up to two years, a fine or both.
The criminal defamation suit followed the civil case Wadia filed in the Bombay High Court on 15 December, seeking damages of Rs 3,000 crore from Tata Sons and others.
Wadia had earlier sent notices to Tata Sons after his removal from the post of independent director from Tata Steel Ltd, Tata Motors Ltd and Tata Chemicals Ltd. He was voted out by Tata Steel shareholders on Wednesday and by Tata Motors shareholders on Thursday.
Tata Sons had alleged that Wadia was “galvanizing” other independent directors against the group and that he was siding with Cyrus Mistry, who was ousted from the chairman’s post at Tata Sons in October. Mistry resigned from all listed Tata Group companies on Monday. On Tuesday, he took the battle against Tata Sons and Ratan Tata to the National Company Law Tribunal.
In his criminal complaint, Wadia said the notices by Tata Group companies seeking to remove him as an independent director caused “severe prejudice” to his reputation and goodwill and affected his status as a director not only in Tata companies but also in various other firms.
“By making false and baseless innuendos and allegations against the Complainant (Wadia), the Accused (Tata Sons and others) have caused distress, hurt and humiliation, as well as pecuniary loss, social disadvantages, injury to feelings, mental pain and suffering to the Complainant,” the complaint said.
The complaint names AM Naik, group executive chairman at Larsen & Toubro Ltd; Subodh Bhargava, chairman at Tata Communication; Tanya Godrej, chief brand officer at Godrej Group; Darius Udwadia, senior partner at law firm Udwadia Udeshi & Argus; and Rajesh Batra, founder of sportswear firm Proline, as his prime witnesses in the case.
Counsel Abad Ponda is representing Wadia in the criminal defamation case.
A spokesperson for Tata Sons, in response to an email query from VCCircle, said: “We cannot comment on the matter since we have not seen the petition.”
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