A Mumbai court has initiated process against Cyrus P Mistry, Shapoor Mistry and others in a £50 million criminal defamation complaint lodged by Tata Trusts' Managing Trustee R Venkataraman, last month. Issued by Metropolitan Magistrate KG Paldewar, the process will see ousted former chairman of Tata Sons, and other directors of Cyrus Investments Pvt Ltd and Sterling Investments Pvt Ltd, being tried for criminal defamation.
An official said they would have to appear before the court and execute bail bonds. Later, however, the charges would be framed against the accused under sections dealing with criminal defamation and criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code. The matter has been posted for further hearing on August 24 and the accused have been directed to appear before it for bail. Arguments of Venkataraman's counsel Parvez Memon were upheld by the court. He said that under the Constitution's Article 21 protecting a citizen's right to life is inclusive of the right to live with dignity and that all are equal in the eyes of the law.
Memon argued that while Mistry is a man with substantial wealth and might, the value of Venkataraman's dignity is much more, and the accused cannot be let loose with impunity for his reckless and irresponsible insinuations which were all false and baseless. “All such allegations were hurled irresponsibly against Venkataraman, Ratan Tata, Tata Sons and others only after his unceremonious ouster from Tata Sons. Why was he otherwise silent for his entire tenure, not to speak about several of his own wrongdoings against which Tata Sons may have its own cause of action,” he told the court.
The email letter, written a day after Mistry was removed as the Tata Sons Chairman, alleged "certain fraudulent transactions of £2.2 million" involving some parties in India and Singapore, at AirAsia India, which is owned in part by the Tatas. It was alleged that Venkataramanan considered these as non-material and didn't encourage any further study and also hinted at some foreign bank accounts. The counsel further argued that Mistry further exaggerated the baseless insinuations through his affidavit in reply, supporting the original allegations in the petition before NCLT, Mumbai, which was subsequently dismissed.