NEW DELHI: The long-drawn legal battle between Ratan Tata and Cyrus Mistry has reached finality, after the Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its verdict on the cross-appeals by Tata Sons and Cyrus Investments, challenging the NCLAT order, which restored Mistry as the Executive Chairman of the Tata conglomerate.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing Tata Sons, submitted before a bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde that Mistry walked away from the board on October 24, 2016 and later wrote a “nasty” email. Senior advocate C.A. Sundaram, representing Cyrus Investments, rebutted the claim, saying that he was removed and had not walked away.
The bench also comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian asked the parties to file written submissions in the matter in a week.
Tatas pointed on Thursday out that SP Group’s case on quasi-partnership is a misrepresentation of facts, and its entry into Tata Sons was not a part of some grand alliance.
Salve submitted before the argument that there should be a “selection committee” to “unselect” a person is “nonsensical”.
“A selection committee selects and recommends a candidate for the position of Chairman. However, the removal can only be done by the Board because only the Board is privy to the incumbent Chairman’s work and can take a decision on removal,” he argued.
Salve said that Shapoorji Pallonji Group’s case on quasi-partnership is a fiction that they have peddled before the court for the last two days. Tata Group denied that Tata Sons is a partnership between the Tatas and the Mistrys, and that the latter’s status is that of an investor and they have got huge returns.
“They don’t have any special rights under the company’s articles,” he said.
Salve added that the argument that there was no prior notice doesn’t have any merit, as the law (secretarial standards) allow any item to be taken up in the board meeting with the permission of the chair and there is nothing odd or wrong about it.
SP Group counsel argued that Mistry was removed because he was going to place a draft governance structure at the Board meeting on October 24, 2016.
However, Tatas contested this, claiming that SP Group counsel did not mention that Ratan Tata had himself, in an email on October 3, 2016, had asked Mistry to formally table the governance structure before the Board so that it could be discussed. Tata was not in complete agreement with what Mistry proposed, yet he didn’t shy away from a discussion on it at the forthcoming Board meeting, Salve said.
Therefore, Tata removed Mistry because he was going to table a governance structure for discussion at the Board is a complete misrepresentation of facts, he argued.