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Putting to rest the controversy between two stalwart industrialists, the Supreme Court yesterday disposed of the defamation case filed by Nusli Wadia against Ratan Tata after the former agreed to withdraw the same.
The hearing began with Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Ratan Tata, stating that this hearing was not to be one where any arguments should be put forward or facts contended. He submitted that the Bench must either decide the case “simpliciter” or dispose of it.
Singhvi pointed out that there was never an intention on the part of Ratan Tata to defame Nusli Wadia.
Senior Advocate Aryama Sundaram, appearing on behalf of Wadia, submitted that the Bench may dispose of the pending case. He handed over his response to Chief Justice of India SA Bobde's suggestion on the last date of hearing.
CJI Bobde had appealed to both parties to resolve the issue at hand amicably with the assistance of both Senior Advocates.
“We appreciate it”, CJI Bobde noted.
The Court ultimately disposed of the matter, noting in its order,
"Although the petitioner was aggrieved by the statement of the respondents, however, in deference to the suggestion made by this Court and in view of the statement made by the respondents that there is no intention to defame the petitioner which is in accordance with the findings of the High Court also, the petitioner hereby seeks permission to withdraw the present special leave petition and the Civil Suit for damages bearing No.225 of 2017 pending in the Bombay High Court."
A Bench Of CJI Bobde and Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant had taken up the petition filed by Nusli Wadia against Ratan Tata claiming defamation by Ratan Tata and others on 6th January 2020. The petition had sought to claim damages amounting up to Rs. 3,000 crore.
Wadia had filed a criminal defamation suit against Tata Sons and its Directors in 2016 after being voted out of the group companies of Tata, of which he was a board member. Wadia was the senior most Director of three companies – Tata Steel, Tata Motors and Tata Chemicals.
On November 10, 2016, Tata Sons had sent a notice requisitioning a special extraordinary meeting. The said notice, it is alleged, contained false allegations and defamatory statements against Wadia.
Among the allegations were that Wadia was acting in concert with former Chairman of the Tata Group Cyrus Mistry, against the interests of the company. Further, it was alleged that Wadia had not been conducting himself independently, and that his actions put the future of Tata Steel Limited in jeopardy.
He thus filed a defamation suit under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code, read with Sections 34 and 109.
With the Supreme Court's order, this suit, as well as the SLP filed in the Supreme Court, have been disposed of as withdrawn.
Read the order: