Former Tata Group chief Cyrus Mistry on Thursday hit back at Tata Trust boss R Venkataraman for dragging his name in the AirAsia India case, saying it was a "ridiculous attempt" to question the Central Bureau of Investigation's independence and hide his "alleged misadventures" at the airline.
On Wednesday, Venkatraman had said the accusations against him find their root in “baseless allegations made by former Tata Group chairman Cyrus Mistry and Shapoor Pallonji Group against the trustees of Tata Trusts, including him, and Tata Sons.”
Mistry, who was ousted from Tata Group after an acrimonious boardroom fight and is engaged in a long-running legal battle with Tatas since then, said the board of Tata Sons and the Tata Trustees should concern themselves over the decline in governance standards at the budget carrier.
He denied the allegations levelled against him by Venkataraman as "malicious" and "defamatory."
Venkataraman is a non-executive director at AirAsia India and figures among those against whom the CBI has filed a case in the Air Asia case.
The CBI has registered a case against AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes, Venkataramanan and other officials for allegedly trying to manipulate government policies through corrupt means to get international licence.
"It is well documented that Mr R Venkataraman was intimately involved in the affairs of AirAsia India right from its inception. He has had many roles including that of Executive Assistant to Mr Ratan Tata at the time of the formation of the company (AirAsia India), Tata Sons' nominee on the board, as well as that of a shareholder with a 1.5 per cent stake in the company," Mistry said in a statement today.
The budget carrier is majority-owned by Tatas and Venkataramanan has around 1.5 per cent shareholding in the joint venture with AirAsia Berhad."His weak excuse that he was only a non-executive director without any responsibility is totally without any merit...the board of Tata Sons and the Tata Trustees need to concern themselves over the decline in governance standards at AirAsia India that this shameful case reveals," Mistry added in the statement.
Venkatraman had said he was "wrongly named" by the CBI in relation to the Air Asia case, and that he had "little or no role to play" in his capacity as non-executive director of AirAsia India Limited.
"R Venkataraman, as the Managing Trustee of the Tata Trusts, should know better than to drag the name of such a remarkable institution into an investigation by the CBI over his alleged personal integrity and alleged corrupt business dealings," Mistry said in the statement.
"This ridiculous attempt to question the independence of the CBI and to cloak his alleged misadventures by using my name is treated with the contempt it deserves," he added.
Venkataraman's alleged actions, which are under investigation, raise grave public concerns over his credibility and ability to be the custodian of India's largest public charitable trust, Mistry said.
On Tuesday, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) launched a case against low-cost airline AirAsia India, its Malaysian parent AirAsia Bhd, and senior executives, including group chief executive officer Tony Fernandes, among others.
CBI has charged the entities and executives with allegedly entering into a criminal conspiracy with the previous UPA government to secure rights to fly abroad.
First Published: IST