Cyrus Mistry Counsel’s Refusal to Argue Case Disobedience: NCLT
Tribunal adjourns hearing on Mistry plea against Tatas for two weeks
Mumbai: The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) adjourned the hearing of the petition filed by Cyrus Mistry’s family firms against Tata Sons for two weeks at the request of his counsel C Aryama Sundaram, who refused to argue the case on Tuesday. The two-member bench comprising BSV Prakash Kumar and V Nallasenapathy said the refusal to argue the main petition was nothing but disobedience of the court. The family firms are seeking a stay on an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) called by Tata Sons on February 6 to consider removing Mistry from the board and allege oppression of minority shareholders and mismanagement at the company.
The judges called for the next hearing on February 13 and 14 for arguments against Tata Sons’ alleged oppression of minority interests and will hear counter-arguments by Tata Sons counsel on February 20 and 21. “The roadmap of the hearing was already laid out on December 22, 2016, and January 18, 2017. There was time in between but the petitioner had not appealed on any order. It was obvious that matters had been dealt with. Therefore the argument is unmeritorious. Hope that the petitioner (Mistry firms) will argue after two weeks, failing which the petition will stand dismissed,” Justice Kumar said. Sundaram wanted the judges to pass an order on the Tata Sons EGM and clear its position on the maintainability of the case before starting his arguments on the main petition so that he could appeal against any adverse decision. Mistry’s
family firms are now expected to move the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal to stall the EGM. “We were very particular that an order should be passed on it either way rather than keep it pending, otherwise February 6th will come
and go,” Sundaram told the press after the hearing. “Now, we may want to take other remedies against the order and that is why we asked for an adjournment. Today, the bench indicated that the interim application (against holding the EGM) was refused and rejected.”
“What Mistry is doing is forum shopping and he does not want to argue after the court has fixed a date by consent of both the parties,” said a lawyer involved in the case. “Disobedience comes under the contempt of court act.”
In January, Mistry’s companies had moved the NCLT alleging contempt of court by Tata Sons, contending that the company had violated the court’s directives by initiating procedures to remove Mistry from the board.
Mistry’s family firms, which hold 18.4% of Tata Sons, first moved the NCLT in December against the Tata Sons board, its directors including interim chairman Ratan Tata and two of the Tata Trusts and its trustees for “oppressing” minority shareholders and “mismanagement.”
Mistry was removed as chairman of Tata Sons on October 24 after the board said it lost confidence in him.
Tata Sons’ counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi termed the approach of Mistry’s family firms on Tuesday as an attempt to ambush the proceedings and an unfair tactic.