The Bombay HC also refused to stay proceedings before a magistrate court in a 2016 criminal defamation case filed by Nusli Wadia against Ratan Tata and some other Tata Sons directors. A single Bench refused to extend the March 18 order that restrained the magistrate court from hearing the case until March 27. The court was hearing a writ petition filed by Tata and the other directors seeking that the complaint, FIR and the charge sheet filed against them in the case be quashed.
While Tata’s counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi sought an extension of the stay, Justice Mridula Bhatkar said the next hearing before the magistrate court was in July and the HC will hear the matter before July and, therefore, the stay was not necessary.
In December, a magistrate court had issued notices to Ratan Tata and other Tata Sons directors in the case filed by Wadia. Wadia, who was voted out of the boards of some Tata group companies, had claimed that Tata and others had made defamatory statements against him after they removed Cyrus Mistry on October 24, 2016 as the group chairman of Tata Sons.
Wadia, who was on the boards as an independent director of several Tata group companies, was voted out by shareholders at a specially convened general meeting between December 2016 and February 2017. He initiated defamation proceedings against the respondents under section 500 of the Indian Penal Code. Tata and the other directors facing the proceedings approached the HC earlier this month with the plea for quashing.
The case had been scheduled for a detailed hearing in the HC on Wednesday but was adjourned to April 18 following a conflict over the court's roster. Wadia’s counsel Abad Ponda argued that as per the current roster of Bombay HC, the case should be heard by a division bench and not a single judge.
The HC has now directed the registry to sort out the issue of the roster and post the matter for further hearing before the appropriate bench.