38.6c New Delhi, India, Thursday, April 18, 2024

Bombay High Court Quashes Criminal Defamation Proceedings Against Ratan Tata, N Chandrasekaran [Read Judgment]

By LawStreet News Network      24 July, 2019 12:00 AM      0 Comments
Bombay High Court Quashes Criminal Defamation Proceedings Against Ratan Tata, N Chandrasekaran [Read Judgment]

The Bombay High Court on July 22, 2019, quashed proceedings initiated against Tata Sons’ former chairman Ratan Tata, its current chairman N. Chandrasekaran and eight directors of the firm in a criminal defamation case filed by Nusli Wadia.

In December 2018, a Magistrate Court in Mumbai issued notices to Ratan Tata and others in the criminal defamation case filed by Wadia in 2016 after he was voted out of the boards of some Tata Group companies.

Tata and others then approached the Bombay High Court seeking to quash and set aside the proceedings initiated against them.

A Division Bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre on July 22, 2019, quashed and set aside the proceedings.

Senior Counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Ratan Tata, submitted before the court that the defamation case was because of a fallout of a corporate dispute.

He said the entire case was led with complete non-application of mind.

“The case is only a fallout of a corporate dispute between Ratan Tata and Nusli Wadia, who is a strong supporter of Cyrus Mistry,” Singhvi argued.

On the other hand, Wadia, in his complaint before the Magistrate, claimed that Tata and others made defamatory statements against him after they removed Cyrus Mistry on October 24, 2016, as the group chairman of Tata Sons.

Wadia was on the board as an independent director of group companies like Indian Hotels Company, which runs the Taj group of hotels, TCS, Tata Motors and Tata Steel, among others. He was voted out by shareholders at a specially convened general meeting between December 2016 and February 2017.

Wadia said that he approached the court as he was not satisfied with the explanation given by the respondents (Tata and others) following his letters to them.

He, therefore, initiated criminal defamation proceedings against Tata and others under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Singhvi argued before the high court that what the complainant, Wadia, has termed as defamatory is wrong and not “defamatory per se”.

“The November 2016 letters and minutes of the meeting circulated by Tata Sons to its group companies only sought for Wadia’s removal as he was acting against the company’s interest,” Singhvi said.


On hearing both the parties, the High Court ruled that a company is well within its rights to remove a Director as per Section 169 of the Companies Act, 2013, if it is found that he was acting against the interests of the company.

The court found merit in Singhvi's submission that there was non-application of mind on the part of the Magistrate in issuing notice. As noted in the judgment,

The Magistrate before issuing the process, has failed to take into consideration the conspectus of the matter and though it is the duty cast upon him to be satisfied before issuance of a process, he had concluded without any material being placed before him that the statement is defamatory.”

The court observed that there was no prima facie defamation involved and that it could not find any actual harm caused to Wadia's reputation. Moreover, it also noted that the element of mens rea was absent.

It, therefore, allowed Tata's plea, ruling that, “We conclude that the order passed by the magistrate is without application of mind and cannot be sustained and resultantly, we quash and set aside the impugned order.”

[Read Judgment]

Share this article:

User Avatar

Leave a feedback about this

Trending Judiciary
Burden to prove dishonest damage to electric meter is for electricity theft, is on the prosecution: Delhi HC [Read Judgment]

Delhi High Court has held that the burden to prove that a person has ‘dishonestly’ damaged an electric meter to commit electricity theft is on the prosecution.

17 April, 2024 05:41 PM


Trending Legal Insiders
Two-day conference on April 13-14 on Technology and Dialogue between SC and Singapore

Explore AI's role in law at the India-Singapore Supreme Court conference on technology, enhancing judicial processes and access to justice, April 13-14, 2024.

12 April, 2024 06:16 PM
Trending Interview
LSJ Exclusive Interview: How BJP govt will free Chhattisgarh from “Naxal menace”? [Watch Video]

What is Chhattisgarh govt's plan for solving the Maoist/Naxalite problem in the state? Will there be a surgical strike against the Naxals or solution will be found via diplomatic channels? Read the Exclusive Interview with the Deputy Chief Minister Vijay Sharma.

13 April, 2024 12:33 PM
Trending Judiciary
SC rejects review of order to pay Rs 1.54 Cr compensation to ex Air Force staff for transfusion of HIV infected blood [Read Order]

SC denies review of Rs 1.54 Cr HIV compensation order to ex-Air Force staff for medical negligence.

13 April, 2024 03:13 PM
Trending Legal Insiders
CJI cautions against overlooking ethical legal consideration on use of AI in court adjudication

CJI D Y Chandrachud warns about ethical, legal challenges in AI use in courts, stressing need for thorough review.

13 April, 2024 07:08 PM


Join Group

Signup for Our Newsletter

Get Exclusive access to members only content by email