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Wadia Drops Defamation Cases, Including 3,000 Cr Suit Against Tata

Bombay Dyeing Chairman Nusli Wadia on Monday withdrew all defamation cases, including the Rs 3,000 crore suit for damages, against Tata group Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata and others.

A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant allowed Wadia to withdraw the petition after the apex court recorded that Tata and others had no intention to defame him (Wadia).

"In view of the statement made by Tata that there was no intention to defame Wadia, which is in accordance with the finding of the high court, the petitioner is hereby allowed to withdraw the present petition as well as the pending suit for damages," the bench said.

The top court told senior advocate CA Sundaram, appearing for Wadia, that court appreciates his client for the response.

At the outset, Sundaram submitted a note to the bench in which Wadia had suggested a settlement that if Tata and others are willing to record before the court that there was no intention to defame him, then he will consider withdrawing the pending suit for damages.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that Wadia was only asked by the court on 6 January if he was willing to withdraw the suit.

"Now, he is saying that a statement needs to be recorded. There is a clear cut finding of Bombay High Court that there was no intention to defame him," Singhvi said.

The top court said however that it is modifying its earlier order and recording that respondents (Tata and others) had no intention to defame Wadia, which is also in accordance with the high court order.

This is a second relief for Tata in past three days, as the top court had on 10 January, stayed in toto the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal's order restoring Cyrus Mistry as executive chairman of the Tata Group, observing that there were "lacunae" in the orders passed by the tribunal.

The top court had, on 6 January asked Wadia and Tata to sit together and resolve their differences in the defamation case.

Wadia had filed a criminal defamation case against Ratan Tata and other directors of Tata Sons in 2016 after he was voted out of the boards of some Tata Group companies.

The top court, which was initially inclined to dispose of the matter while upholding the finding of Bombay High Court that there was no intention of defamation, adjourned the matter for 13 January, after counsel for Wadia said that he would like to seek instruction from his client on the separate suit filed in the matter.

Wadia had moved the apex court challenging the Bombay High Court order of last year, quashing proceedings initiated by a Mumbai local court against Tata, Tata Sons' current chief N Chandrasekaran and eight directors in a criminal defamation case filed by him.

On 15 December 2018, a magistrate court in Mumbai had issued notices to Tata and the others in the case.

Wadia filed the defamation case in 2016 after he was voted out of the boards of some Tata Group companies, and claimed that Tata and others made defamatory statements against him after they removed Cyrus Mistry on 24 October 2016 as the chairman of Tata Sons.

Tata and others had then approached the high court seeking to quash and set aside the proceedings initiated against them.

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