Tata-Mistry Case: Cyrus Mistry Files Appeal In Supreme Court Seeking More Relief From NCLAT
Cyrus Mistry, former chairman of Tata Group. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Tata-Mistry Case: Cyrus Mistry Files Appeal In Supreme Court Seeking More Relief From NCLAT

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Tata Sons Pvt. Ltd.’s Former Chairman Cyrus Mistry has moved the Supreme Court for removal of several anomalies in NCLAT’s Dec. 18 order in the Tata-Mistry case, saying his family—Shapoorji Pallonji—deserved more relief from the tribunal.

The move comes less than a month after the apex court stayed the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal’s order that reinstated Mistry as the head of the salt-to-software conglomerate. The stay came on an appeal filed by Tata Group.

Shapoorji Pallonji, which owns 18.37 percent stake in Tata Sons, has filed cross appeal in the court. A cross appeal refers to an appeal made against certain facets of a judgement.

In his petition, Mistry has described the group's relationship with Tatas as "a quasi-partnership relationship of a vintage of over 60 years, holding 18.37 percent in the equity share capital of Tata Sons and whose stake is now worth over Rs 1.5 lakh crore".

According to the petition, which was accessed by Press Trust of India, the Mistry camp has sought remedies for many anomalies in the NCLAT order, including about not looking at alleged oppression of minority shareholders as well as converting Tata Sons into a private limited company as a post-facto move.

The conversion happened after Mistry was removed as chairman on Oct. 24, 2016.

According to the petition, filed on Feb. 14, the tribunal order clearly and unequivocally found the prejudicial conduct by Tata Sons but failed to provide certain important reliefs that would have put an end to oppressive conduct of the majority shareholder.

The 45-page petition said the tribunal, after reviewing voluminous records, has clearly found the prejudicial conduct by Tata Sons but "has erred in not granting vital reliefs, including proportionate representation on the board of Tata Sons, and striking down of certain provisions in the articles of association, which were the tools of oppression that enabled prejudicial conduct by the majority shareholder".

The petition also contended that NCLAT erroneously said it did not have the powers to alter Articles of Association even though it had correctly recorded that the relationship between the Tatas and the Mistry family was in the nature of a "quasi-partnership".

The petition seeks to secure deletion of certain specific provisions in the Articles of Association of Tata Sons, clearly permitted by the special provisions dealing with oppression of minority shareholders under the companies law.

Further, Mistry has sought proportionate representation on the board of Tata Sons to ensure that its interests and investments are protected in the future.

While the manifest abuse of power and conduct lacking in probity has been explicitly found by NCLAT in removal of Mistry, his reinstatement was not sought, the petition said. "Instead, what was sought was clearly intervention in the form of deletion of provisions in Articles of Association, which is a measure specifically provided for in Section 242 of the Companies Act, 2013," it noted.

Handwritten letters of Ratan Tata to Pallonji Mistry, Cyrus Mistry’s father, have also been attached along with the petition.

In a letter written to Pallonji Mistry on March 27, 1991—two days after taking over as Tata Sons chairman—Ratab Tata said he would never hurt him or his family. "...our common agreement and mutual faith will foster a true and lasting relationship without any misunderstanding—and in the best interest of Tata Sons as a company," the letter said. "Our standing together will also be a matter of strength… Let me reiterate that I will never do anything consciously to hurt you or your family…" it added.

PTI has seen a copy of the letter.

As the largest minority shareholder in Tata Sons, whose group companies are now worth more than $100 billion in total, Pallonji Mistry and his children Shapoor and Cyrus, served as directors of 20 Tata Group companies.

Since the 1920s, the 154-year old Shapoorji Pallonji Mistry Group, has been increasing its ownership in the Tatas. Pallonji Mistry was on the board of Tata Sons from June 1980 to 2004. Cyrus Mistry became a director in Tata Sons in August 2006, a directorship he held till he was removed in February 2017.

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