The spat between Tata Group and Mistry camp appeared to be escalating with industrialist Nusli Wadia saying on Wednesday that he has been left with no option other than to pursue defamation proceedings against the conglomerate.
In a seven-page letter addressed to Tata Sons director Bharat Vasani, which point-by-point denies the charges against him, the friend-turned-foe of Ratan Tata said since Bombay House has not provided any proofs for the allegations against him and instead has asked him to retract his statements, he is left with “no other option but to proceed with the defamation proceedings against the Tata Group.”
On November 24, the salt-to-software conglomerate had asked the Wadia group chairman to withdraw his legal notice saying there was nothing vindictive in its resolution seeking his removal as independent director on board of key group firms.
“Please note that your reluctance to address the issues raised in my letters and submit proofs to support the allegations and statements made in the special notice for an EGM of Tata Steel and your insistence not to withdraw them, will result in only one conclusion that it is a clear case of defamation,” Wadia said in letter.
The letter further says, “The special notice for EGM of Tata Steel shareholders are aimed at defaming me as the content of the notice are false, frivolous, and per se defamatory, which are now established to be unsubstantiated for which I shall be compelled to initiate legal proceedings to protect my interest.”
Wadia also said that as an independent on the board of Tata Steel, Tata Motors and Tata Chemicals, he has no fiduciary duty towards the “undefined Tata Group or Tata companies” as the fiduciary duty of an independent director is to all stakeholders of the company of whose board he is.
All the key six Tata group companies-TCS, Tata Motors, Tata Steel, Tata Power, Tata Chemicals and Indian Hotels--have called extraordinary general body meetings between Decmber 13 and 26 to remove Mistry from all these companies as a director and also Wadia from the steel (Dec 21), power (Dec 26) and chemicals (Dec 23) arms.
On November 25, the Tata Steel board had removed Cyrus Mistry as the chairman and appointed independent director O P Bhatt in his place as interim chair. On November 11, the board has sent out a special notice calling for an EGM to remove Mistry and Wadia as its directors.