Tata Sons on Thursday issued a second legal notice to its ousted chairman Cyrus Mistry, which charged him with breach of confidentiality and asked him to return all classified papers and sign an undertaking within 48 hours that he would not disclose such information in future.
The notice sent through law firm, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, alleged that Mistry had “wrongfully and dishonestly” taken confidential information out of the company premises without consent and asked him to “immediately return to the company all confidential information” and “not retain copies” of the same.
Reacting to the legal notices, Mistry’s office issued a statement, stating, “The Tata letter, termed a ‘notice’, is a request not to draw the attention of courts and tribunals to documents and records on the ground that they are ‘confidential’ in nature.”
The satement added: “Neither will we comment in public nor will we provide our correspondence to the media to make news. We will keep focus on the real and core issues in the relevant forums alone. That their letters claiming confidentiality have been widely circulated to the media is ironical. We believe such conduct is unbecoming and interferes with justice administration. For the record, the affidavit that Mr Cyrus Mistry had to file by today has been filed in the Hon’ble National Company Law Tribunal”.
After Mistry had moved the National Company Law Tribunal on December 20, Tata Sons had on December 27 sent him the first legal notice for alleged breach of confidentiality by making public sensitive company documents including minutes of board meetings, financial information and data, which were not directly related to his petition. Since the petition filed in the NCLT against the Tata Sons is through the family firms of Mistry – Cyrus Investment Pvt Ltd and Sterling Investment Pvt Ltd – where he holds stakes, Tata Sons had charged him with breach of confidentiality and asked him to cease and desist from sharing any confidential and sensitive information he came to know in his capacity as director of Tata Sons and redact all documents which are not directly related to the legal proceedings.
In Thursday’s notice, Tata Sons said Mistry was privy to confidential and commercially sensitive information and documents in his capacity as executive chairman and director of the company and its operating firms. “Under applicable law, you are duty-bound to (a) preserve the confidentiality of all such information and data that you are privy to in your capacity as director and (b) not disclose or use such information for any purpose whatsoever,” it said adding any breach of such legal duties would cause irreparable harm and injury to Tata Sons.
“We have credible information that you have wrongfully and dishonestly taken movable property being confidential information, out of the possession of the company, from the premises of the company, without taking the appropriate consent of the company,” the notice said adding such an act was an offence punishable by law.
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Mistry’s family investment firms hold 18.38% stake in Tata Sons and their petition in the NCLT has alleged oppression of minority shareholders by the company under sections 241, 242 and 244. In the petition, among other things, Mistry has annexed the minutes of the board meeting of Tata Sons on October 24 in which he was removed.
Following Mistry’s removal there have been a major war of words between him and the Tata Sons. Apart from Mistry the Tatas have also targeted their one-time ally and friend Nusli Wadia whom they have accused of acting in concert with Mistry. While Mistry stepped down as director of the remaining five Tata firms following his ouster from the board of Tata Consultancy Services in an extraordinary general meeting, Wadia was removed as independent director from the boards of Tata Steel, Tata Motors and Tata Chemicals last week. Wadia has retaliated by calling all allegations against him a part of vendetta by Ratan Tata and has moved the court in a Rs 3,000 crore defamation suit as well as a criminal defamation suit against him and Tata Sons.