The city bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) will deliver its judgement on July 4 that may bring the curtains down on the two-year-old bitter feud between Tata Sons and its dismissed chairman Cyrus Mistry.
The key allegation by Mistry camp is that his removal as chairman and subsequently as a director of the board Tata Sons was a result of oppression by the promoters who are in turn owned by Tata Trusts that owns over 68 per cent in Tata Sons.
The second part of the plea focused on the alleged mismanagement by Tata Sons board and Ratan Tata which caused revenue loss for the group. He has also termed the changes to the articles of association since his dismissal from office as "arbitrary".
The Mistry family owns 18.6 per cent in Tata Sons, though holding with voting rights is only under 4 per cent. The over 18 per cent stake makes the Mistry group as the single largest shareholder in countrys largest corporate entity, though.
The Mumbai NCLT bench headed by justices BSV Prakash Kumar and V Nallasenapathy will pronounce its verdict on the issue after a marathon hearing that lasted for four months (from October 2017 to February 2018) on July.
Mistry moved the NCLT in December 2016. The bench had dismissed his petition early 2017 citing eligibility clause, which was challenged at the NCLAT in New Delhi, which had asked the bench to hear the matter afresh, saying the waiver to the Mistry camp on principle and not on merit of the case.
The petition was dismissed on eligibility clause as Mistry and family did not have the required 10 per cent equity share in the group that is mandatory for filing a mismanagement and oppression case under sections 241, 242 and 244, by any minority shareholder.
At the crux of the plaint is Mistrys contention that the articles of association of Tata Sons by structure are biased against the rights of minority shareholders and thereby oppressive, a charge that the Tatas dismissed saying he has been on the board since 2006 and had never mentioned this till he was shown the door on October 24, 2016.
Mistry took over the reins of the salt-to-software giant in December 2012 after the group patriarch Ratan Tata demitted office on attaining 70 years.
While the Tatas are being represented by an array of top-notch lawyers headed by senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, the Mistry camp is led by senior lawyer Aryama Sundaram.
After Mistry replied to some letters from the Income Tax department after he was removed from office, without any authority to do so Tatas counsel Singhvi told the court that Mistrys behaviour amounted to that of a Trojan Horse as his allegations had cost the group dearly.
It can also be noted that a board position with Tata Sons is offered by invitation and cannot be demanded as of right or by virtue of shareholdings.