A METROPOLITAN court has initiated process against former Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry, elder brother Shapoor Mistry and other directors of Cyrus Investments and Sterling Investments on a criminal defamation case filed against them by managing trustee of Tata Trusts, R Venkataramanan.
On Tuesday, an additional chief metropolitan magistrate, ordered the issuing of notices asking them to appear before it on August 24. “The court has taken cognizance of the defamation complaint and admitted it. The court has now issued process which means that the persons named as accused would have to be present before the court for further proceedings,” said Zulfiquar Memon of MZM Legal, representing Venkataramanan.
According to Memon, the complaint was filed seeking Rs 500 crore in damages and an unconditional apology. In his complaint, Venkataramanan has said that an email sent by Mistry, when he was ousted on October 25, 2016, to the trustees of Tata Trusts trustees and Tata Sons directors, contained statements which were defamatory against him. Memon said that it was submitted before the court that the statements made by Mistry were ‘irresponsible’ and caused irreparable damage to his reputation.
The Mistry family owns around 18 per cent stake in Tata Sons, the holding company of Tata conglomerate. Reacting to the development, a statement from the office of Cyrus Mistry said: “The attempt to initiate criminal prosecution for alleged defamation is an ill-advised and immature proxy battle through Venkataramanan whose role in Air Asia is subject matter of several investigations by law enforcement agencies.”
“The move by the Tata Trustees to attempt to muzzle and interfere with legal proceedings faced by them, now before the NCLAT will be effectively and appropriately dealt with. We believe in the nation’s legal system and know such subversion of justice systems will meet its fate. The petitioners in the NCLAT proceedings and Mistry will continue to do the right thing by the Tata Group and protect it from oppressive conduct and mismanagement,” Mistry’s statement said.
Cyrus Investments and Sterling Investment, which hold stake in Tata Sons, had moved the National Company Law Tribunal against alleged “oppression of minority shareholders and mismanagement of Tata companies”. The tribunal had dismissed the petition citing that the investment firms have insufficient shareholding to seek a legal recourse. It had also declined to grant a waiver on the maintainability of the petition. The companies then appealed against the tribunal’s order at NCLAT, New Delhi.