Tata Sons Interim Chairman Ratan Tata turned emotional at a shareholders’ meeting stating that there had been a definite move to damage his personal reputation and “these days are very lonely” because of “unsubstantiated” attacks against him.
Countering the charges listed by Nusli Wadia, Tata said that truth will prevail. “Whatever the process may be and however painful it is, I think the truth will prevail and the systems in our country will govern,” he said at the extraordinary general meeting of Tata Chemicals.
“There has been a definite move to damage my personal reputation and the reputation of this great group — the Tata group. And these days are very lonely because the newspapers are full of attacks, most of them unsubstantiated but nevertheless very painful,” he said.
He said the 150-year old Tata group stands for strong governance and fair play. “I could not leave from here (EGM) today without at least expressing my deepest gratitude to the shareholders. It has been a pleasure to be with you,” Tata said thanking the shareholders for their support, warmth and affection.
“And coming here this week with all the shareholders, I have been so moved emotionally and deeply touched by the warmth and the support and the affection that they have shown,” Tata said. “It (EGM) could have gone either way but your support has been overwhelming and remarkable. It has done more for my sense of goodwill today.”
Nusli Wadia, who was removed as the independent director from the boards of Tata Steel, Tata Motors and Tata Chemicals, had filed a defamation case against holding company Tata Sons and 11 of its board members and executives.
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, libelous and defamatory material concerning the Complainant.”
He said the actions had tarnished his reputation and “caused distress, hurt and humiliation, as well as pecuniary loss, social disadvantages, injury to feelings, mental pain and suffering to the complainant.”
Wadia said he would pursue criminal charges of defamation, as well as abatement and “criminal action with common intention” violations that could be punishable by imprisonment for up to two years, or a fine, or both.
Wadia had been expected to take legal action after he was ousted from the boards of Tata Motors and Tata Steel this week.
Wadia came out against Tata Sons publicly backed Tata Sons’ former chairman Cyrus Mistry, who was ousted in October, sparking an acrimonious battle. Mistry has accused Tata Sons of mismanagement and corporate governance failures, allegations which Tata Sons has refuted. Mistry resigned from the boards of Tata group companies earlier this week and filed a petition with the National Company Law Tribunal to either replace Tata Sons’ current board, or appoint a retired Supreme Court judge as non-executive chairman.
Tata Motors shareholder’s voted in favour of Wadia’s removal as director. This came two days after the Tata Steel members voted by 90.80 percent in favour of a resolution to remove Nusli Wadia from the office of the director of the company, with immediate effect.
On Thursday, the National Company Law Tribunal, where yrus Mistry had moved a day before, alleging bad practices, oppression and mismanagement on the part of Tata conglomerate, refused to provide any interim relief to him.