Industrialist Nusli Wadia on Monday said Tata Sons had ousted him from companies under the group for his independence of “mind and action”. In a letter to the group’s shareholders, he said, “Allegations levelled against me by Tata Sons that I have been acting in concert with Cyrus Mistry are totally false and baseless.”
It is the first time in the history of corporate India that a promoter is using his muscle power to remove an independent director, Wadia added in the letter, urging shareholders to decide whether they should “condone such coercive tactics”. The Bombay Dyeing chairman further said that while he differed strongly with Ratan Tata over the acquisition of steel manufacturing Corus Group, the decision was made by consensus.
Wadia also took a jibe at Ratan Tata, when he said he was invited to join the group by his mentor and director JRD Tata who had encouraged “freedom of thought” and never expected anyone to “toe the Tata line”.
On November 21, the 72-year-old had served a defamation notice to the conglomerate, asking the group to either withdraw its “defamatory special notice” or prove the accusations within two days of receipt of the letter. As an alternative, he had suggested that the board appoint an independent retired judge to study the allegations, which if proven wrong would have him continue as independent director. In his letter, Wadia said neither demand had been heeded.
Tata Sons had moved a resolution on November 12 to have both Mistry and Wadia removed as directors of Tata Chemicals, Tata Steel and Tata Motors. Wadia, who is also the chairman of Britannia Industries, has been an independent director of Tata Chemicals since June 1981, Tata Steel since August 2005 and Tata Motors since December 1998.
The decision to remove Wadia from the boards follows the spat between the Tatas and Mistry, who was ousted as chairman of Tata Sons on October 24. The Tata Group has accused Mistry of being responsible for its dwindling revenue. The group will hold an extra-ordinary meeting on December 21 to decide on Wadia’s ouster.