NEW DELHI: After spending nearly a year in hearing the high-stake dispute between Tata group and Shapoorji Pallonji group, Chief Justice S A Bobde on Monday revealed that his advocate son Shrinivas Bobde is appearing for a SP group subsidiary engaged in a slum redevelopment project in Mumbai and inquired whether it would amount to conflict of interest if he heard the case.
On Monday afternoon, the three-judge bench headed by Justice Bobde informed the counsel for friend-turned-foe companies – Harish Salve and C A Sundaram – if any of them wanted him to recuse from hearing the case. But, both immediately said that they have no objection to the CJI-led bench hearing arguments in the appeals filed by Tata Sons against a December 18,2019 order of National Company Law Appellate Tribunal, which had reinstated Cyrus Mistry as executive chairman of Tata Sons.
A bench of CJI Bobde and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant had on January 10 stayed the NCLAT judgment that had also reverted Tata Sons into a public company. Mistry was appointed as executive chairman of Tata Sons in 2012 and was sacked by the board of directors on October 24, 2016 leading to the fight between the Tata group and SP group, which had been partners since 1965.
CJI Bobde-led bench recorded the no-objection from counsel for both parties and said, “It is better to clarify these things at the beginning.Otherwise it creates a lot of problems after a decision is made in the case.” Sundaram said there are so many companies and subsidiaries in the two large business groups, it is difficult to imagine any bright young lawyer not having represented a company associated with the two groups.
Appearing for the SP group companies, Sundaram said that one of the skirmishes between Mistry and Ratan Tata was the former’s objection to Tata pressuring him to favour Ola over Uber in terms of using Tata cars as taxis. For Tata, A M Singhvi said that the letter cited by Mistry was an attempt to mislead the court. “Tata has less than 1% share in Ola. This is being used to accuse Tata of favouring Ola. Tata’s intention was to maximise the use of Tata cars in the operation of taxi aggregators.”
Referring to the inquiries being made by Tata on this front from Mistry, the CJI-led bench asked, “what is wrong in the head of the family inquiring as to how the deal is proceeding? India has traditional family business empires, be it Birlas, Modis or Tatas. It will be interesting to know how JRD Tata ran the company. It all depends on the kind of family. We know so many eminent families which have disinherited eminent personalities. In the backdrop of it being a family company, what is wrong in Ratan Tatat wanting information from Mistry?”
Sundaram said it is about the interest of the shareholders of the company and the relation between the majority and minority shareholders. SC would continue hearing on Tuesday.
Source From : Times Of India