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HC stays Nusli Wadia defamation plea hearing against Ratan Tata, others

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The Bombay High Court Monday stayed till March 27 the proceedings before a magistrate court in a 2016 criminal defamation case filed by Nusli Wadia against Ratan Tata and some other directors of Tata Sons.

A single bench of Justice Mridula Bhatkar stayed the proceedings through an interim order.

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Justice Bhatkar will now hear a petition filed by Tata and other directors of Tata Sons seeking quashing of the defamation case against them on March 27.

Therefore, Justice Bhatkar directed the magistrate’s court to refrain from proceeding with the hearing on the defamation case until then.

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In December 2018, the magistrate court had issued notices to Ratan Tata and other directors of Tata Sons in the criminal defamation case filed by Wadia and then posted the matter for further hearing on March 25, 2019.

Wadia had filed the case in 2016 after he was voted out of the boards of some Tata Group companies.

Wadia had claimed that Tata and the others had 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 boards as an independent director of group companies like Indian Hotels Company that 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.

He said that he approached the magistrate’s court as he was not satisfied with the explanation the respondents (Tata and others) had given him following his letters to them.

He therefore initiated defamation proceedings against the respondents under section 500 of the Indian Penal Code.

Wadia is represented in the high court by advocate Abad Ponda.

Ratan Tata and others are represented by former Union Minister P Chidambaram, Congress party leader and senior lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi, and others.

All parties present in HC Monday had urged the court to stay the proceedings before the lower court until the quashing plea was heard by HC.

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