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The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) Mumbai Bench, on Wednesday began the hearing on petitions filed by two companies belonging to Cyrus Mistry's family, demanding action against Tata Sons for "oppression" of minority shareholders and "mismanagement" of Tata Group companies. The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) on September 21 had asked Cyrus Investments and Sterling Investments to approach the Mumbai NCLT afresh. Mistry's counsel Aryama Sundaram began arguments on Wednesday.
The hearing will continue on Thursday. The NCLAT had, in September, upheld Mistry firms' plea seeking a waiver of the 10 per cent minimum shareholding eligibility criterion to be able to move the tribunal against Tata Sons. The Mistry family owns 18.4 per cent stake in Tata Sons. But the holding is under 3 per cent if the preferential shares are excluded (a point the Tatas stressed), thus not meeting the criterion of having at least 10 per cent ownership in a company for filing a case of oppression of minority shareholders under the Companies Act. Mistry is locked in a legal battle with the Tatas since his sacking as chairman of Tata Sons on October 24, 2016, and removal as a director on February 6. The appellate tribunal had said although the Mistry companies did not meet the minimum shareholding norm, under exceptional circumstances this statutory requirement can be waived. It directed the NCLT, which had dismissed Mistry firms' petition against Tata Sons on the ground of not meeting the minimum shareholding criterion, to decide the case in three months.