Tata Sons Interim Chairman Ratan Tata on Friday said attempts have been made to damage his and Tata Group’s reputation.
“Over the last two months there has been a definite move to damage my personal reputation and the reputation of this great group – the Tata group,” Tata told the Tata Chemicals’ Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) held here on Friday.
“And these days are very lonely because the newspapers are full of attacks, most of them unsubstantiated but nevertheless very painful. And coming here this week with all the shareholders, I have been so moved emotionally and deeply touched by the warmth and the support and the affection that they have shown,” he said, adding he could not leave without “expressing my deepest gratitude” to the shareholders for their “overwhelming and remarkable” support.
Tata said that the group has been based on governance and fair play and he was confident the truth will prevail “however painful it may be”.
The EGM was convened to decide whether or not to remove industrialist Nusli Wadia, an Independent Director of the company, from the Board.
The original was to take for the removal of Tata Sons’ ousted Chairman Cyrus Mistry and Walia but the former had voluntarily quit.
Tata Sons’ board ousted Mistry on October 24 and appointed Ratan Tata as the Interim Chairman.
Wadia’s support for Mistry has led several Tata Group companies to call for their respective EGMs to decide whether or not to remove him from their respective Boards.
Earlier in the day, Wadia had made an impassioned appeal to the company’s shareholders to vote with their “conscience” during the firm’s EGM, adding that he has chosen not to attend the company’s EGM, as the recent meetings of other Tata companies have been “inappropriately and shamefully stage managed”.
“What is at stake now is not whether I am removed or not but the fate of the very institution of the Independent Director that has been created in law and by SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) to safeguard the interests of all stakeholders,” he said.
The letter elaborated how Wadia, as well as some other Board members, had expressed concern about the fundamental issues involved in the overall arrangement of the deals.
The development comes a day after Wadia was removed from Tata Motors’ Board of Directors.
Tata Motors’ in a regulatory filing made to the BSE said that over 69 per cent of total shareholders of the company voted during Thursday’s EGM, and out of them, 1,517 or 71.20 per cent of votes favoured the resolution to remove Wadia while 1,037 shareholders, or 28.80 per cent, were opposed.
In response, the Wadia Group in a statement said that non-promoter shareholders had backed Wadia.
Wadia, meanwhile, on Friday filed a criminal defamation suit against Tata Sons, Ratan Tata and its Directors, barely a week after he filed a defamation suit seeking Rs 3,000 crore as damages from the Tata Group and others.
Wadia had also approached the Bombay High Court, which on December 16 declined relief to minority shareholders of three Tata Group companies, who had sought restraint on promoters from voting at EGMs on the resolution to remove him as an Independent Director.
However, the court has barred Tata Steel, Tata Motors and Tata Chemicals from filling up the vacancy on the Board of Directors till further orders.