SC suggests Tata, Wadia should talk to settle defamation case

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New Delhi, Jan 6: The Supreme Court on Monday suggested Nusli Wadia and Ratan Tata should talk to settle their issues in a defamation case.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices B.R. Gavai and Surya Kant, observed that the court is not aware of what is the reason behind these allegations. “Both of you should talk”, said the Chief Justice. The court insisted that the suggestion is a view, as it is not on law in this matter.

Wadia had initiated criminal defamation proceedings after his removal as independent director in a Tata company after Cyrus Mistry was removed as chairman.

Tata had consistently maintained that there was no intention to defame. Senior advocate C.A. Sundaram told the court that his client is willing to withdraw the case if the opposite party withdraws the allegations. The Chief Justice attempted to broker peace between Wadia and Tata and suggested that the court may approve the findings of the Bombay High Court that Tata had no intention to defame Wadia.

The Chief Justice queried Wadia’s counsel that the other party has some grievance in connection with you, and they can act according to the law. “How does that amount to defamation”, court queried to Wadia’s counsel. The counsel insisted that his case is not against the company, but against the people who issued a special resolution requisitioning a meeting and sent the details to the media.

As the apex court was in the middle of passing an order on the matter, Wadia’s lawyer said there is a pending suit. The Chief Justice retierated that the court’s intention is to finish the matter. Wadia’s counsel said he needs to take instructions from his client and the court adjourned the case to Monday.

The Bombay High Court had quashed proceedings initiated by a local court against Tata Sons’ former chairman Ratan Tata along with its current chairman N. Chandrasekaran and eight directors of the firm in a criminal defamation case filed by Nusli Wadia.

In December 2018, a magistrate court in Mumbai issued notices to Ratan Tata and the others in the case filed by Wadia in 2016 after he was voted out of the boards of some Tata Group companies.

Tata and others moved the High Court seeking to quash and set aside the proceedings in the case.

A division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre quashed and set aside the proceedings in July last year.

Senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Ratan Tata, submitted before the court that the defamation case was a result of a fallout in a corporate dispute.