Industrialist Nusli Wadia, an independent director on some Tata Group companies, on Monday served a defamation notice on Tata Sons board asking it to withdraw “false, defamatory and libelous” allegations against him. Tata Sons told PTI that “the company will respond to the notice appropriately”. Wadia is an independent director on some Tata Group companies which have called EGMs to remove him from their boards for allegedly siding with ousted chairman Cyrus Mistry.
Citing the Tatas’ move to remove him from the boards of Indian Hotels, Tata Chemicals, Tata Motors and Tata Steel, as an attempt to “tarnish his personal integrity and corporate image”, he asked Tata Sons to desist from the move or else face legal action.
“These allegations are baseless, false, defamatory and libelous, and have been made with the intention of harming my reputation,” Wadia said in the notice, dated November 21.
Wadia said the Tatas remarks in the move to oust him from the Tata Steel board as an independent director, has “lowered” his image in front of the “esteemed colleagues on board of Tata Steel, and its public shareholders, who you claim will benefit from my removal”.
When contacted the Tata Sons spokesman told PTI that “the company will respond to the notice appropriately”.
Asking the Tatas to withdraw the allegations against him immediately, terming them “baseless and false”, Wadia said the Tatas seem to have embarked on a “personal vendetta” against him.
Wadia in his defamation notice said the Tatas’ attempt has irreparably marred his image and said “the leaking of the notice (for EGM to remove him from the boards) has damaged his reputation with the public at large.”
“I demand that you withdraw these allegations forthwith,” Wadia said in the eight-page notice served to all the 10 board members of Tata Sons, including Cyrus Mistry.
He also said the allegations made against him are the reaction to the board of meeting of Tata Chemicals on November 10 wherein the “independent directors refused to accept an unsigned statement tabled and read out by Bhaskar Bhat, asking for the removal of chairman Cyrus Mistry.”
Tata Sons had moved to remove Wadia, who was a childhood friend of Rata Tata and was appointed by him when he was the group chairman, from the boards of Indian Hotels, Tata Chemicals, Tata Motors and Tata Steel earlier this month, fearing he is out to cause harm to the USD 103 billion group. The group also accused Wadia of trying to take control of some of these companies.
“Despite purportedly being an independent director on the boards of certain Tata group of companies including in Tata Steel, Wadia has been conducting himself as an interested party. In our opinion, Wadia has been conducting himself as an interested party in a manner that is designed to cause harm to the Tata group,” a notice by Tata Steel said.
“Wadia has not been conducting himself independently and instead has been galvanising independent directors and acting prejudicially. Wadia’s action may put the company in grave jeopardy and impact the overall morale of the workers, employees and management who have joined a Tata company,” Tata Steel had added.
It had also pointed out that Wadia has been a director for many decades and hence, his “continuance on the board is untenable”.
“The principal shareholders have lost confidence in the independence suitability or bonafides of Wadia and seek his removal,” the notice had read.