The Supreme Court has asked billionaire businessmen Ratan Tata and Nusli Wadia to settle between themselves a defamation case that the latter filed against the Tata Group patriarch and other members of the Tata Sons board.
Nusli Wadia, a former independent director on the boards of Tata Motors, Tata Steel and Tata Chemicals, filed a defamation case against Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata Group, and 11 of its board members and executives in 2016 after Cyrus Mistry was removed as chairman.
Wadia had then said Tata Sons and the individuals cited, including Ratan Tata, had defamed him “by printing, publishing and circulating per se false, frivolous, baseless, incorrect, libellous and defamatory material concerning the Complainant”.
Wadia said Tata Sons and the individuals cited, including patriarch Ratan Tata, had defamed him “by printing, publishing and circulating per se false, frivolous, baseless, incorrect, libellous and defamatory material concerning the Complainant.” Wadia, who runs a business empire comprising companies from aviation to FMCG, filed a case in December 2016 after he was removed from the boards of Tata Motors, Tata Steel and Tata Chemicals. He had publicly backed Cyrus Mistry, who was ousted as chairman of Tata Sons in November, triggering a nasty public battle.
Wadia has sought damages of Rs 3,000 crore.
On Monday, the Supreme Court said: “You both are leaders in the industry … why don’t you talk and resolve the issue? In this day and age do parties such as yourselves need to pursue litigation like this.”
The court said it can ask a reputed mediator to resolve the issue.
In his plea, Wadia said he was not filing a case against the Tata companies, but against individuals of the Tata Sons board, adding that he was not against his removal from the board of Tata Group companies.
"The board of directors normally only say that they lost confidence, but in my case, the board through a special resolution stated that I lacked bonafide, failed to act as an independent director, and I was forming a coterie."
"These needless observations and allegations cast aspersions on me," Wadia said.
The Supreme Court is hearing the case after the Bombay High Court had quashed defamation proceedings by Wadia against the Tatas.