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Wednesday 29 January 2020

CJI wonders why Wadia, Tata need SC to sort out differences

Nusli Wadia demanded a compensation of Rs 3,000 crore from the Tata group for his defamation, which the Bombay High Court quashed

Hearing Nusli Wadia’s criminal defamation case against Ratan Tata, CJI SA Arvind Bobde said today they were veteran leaders of the industry who should resolve the issue through negotiations. The next hearing of this case is scheduled for 13 January.

Wadia had filed the case against Tata after being removed from the post of an independent director on the boards of Tata Motors, Tata Steel and Tata Chemicals. In 2016, Wadia filed this case against Ratan Tata and others.

Wadia demanded a compensation of Rs 3,000 crore. In July 2019, the Bombay High Court quashed criminal defamation charge. Wadia challenged the verdict of the Bombay High Court in the Supreme Court.

During the hearing, Wadia’s lawyer Aryama Sundaram said that his case was not against the company but against those who circulated a special resolution making all the allegations about his client and conveyed it to the media.

During the hearing, the CJI said, “You are leaders of the industry, why don’t you both sit together and resolve the matter? Why pursue litigation like this?”

Ratan Tata’s lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, “The court may record that our client had no intention of defaming anyone. The proposal circulated was a statutory requirement.”

To this, the CJI said that the Supreme Court had seen that the Bombay High Court had clearly believed that there was no intention of defamation. “Dr Singhvi is saying that there is no intention of defamation and the proposal circulated was a statutory requirement,” the CJI said.

Wadia and Tata are both Parsi and childhood friends. Wadia was once one of the prominent people in the Tata group. The grandson of MA Jinnah considered JRD Tata, who led the Tata group for 50 years, as his mentor and guide. According to the media, after JRD, Wadia was at the forefront in the race to become the chairman of the Tata group, but he retreated to pave the way for friend Ratan Tata.

Wadia is known for his forthright statements. His differences with Tata cropped up in 2007. Wadia was unhappy with Tata Steel’s acquisition of Corus Steel. Tata Steel had bought Corus Steel of Europe for $ 12 billion.

Wadia opposed the investment in the loss-making Tata Nano project too. He did not accept the removal of Cyrus Mistry from the Tata group either.

The apex court’s bench that is hearing the case comprises Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant too.

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