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Tatas instruct Karanjawala, SAM’s Shuva • Cyrus Mistry goes for Desai Diwanji

In potential Tata fight, Cyrus bets on Desai Diwanji, Tatas on Shuva & Karanjawala
In potential Tata fight, Cyrus bets on Desai Diwanji, Tatas on Shuva & Karanjawala

Tata Sons’ former chairman Cyrus Mistry, who was unexpectedly fired from the organisation on Monday, has reportedly decided to approach the Bombay high court challenging his dismissal, although we understand that no case has been filed yet.

We understand from three authoritative sources that two law firms have been instructed by Tata Sons to advise it on the matter, including the filing of caveats: Karanjawala & Co and Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas Mumbai partner Shuva Mandal, who had joined the firm from AZB & Partners.

AZB is understood to have previously acted for Mistry’s family firm, the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, which may have conflicted out of contention AZB, whose Mumbai managing partner Zia Mody is very close to the Tatas.

According to our sources, Desai & Diwanji partner Apurva Diwanji is acting for Cyrus Mistry, briefing senior counsel Iqbal Chagla and Janak Dwarkadas, as well as former J Sagar Associates (JSA) partner Somasekhar Sundaresan, who has left the firm to become an independent counsel.

Apurva Diwanji is understood to have attended the same school as Mistry.

Note: The Economic Times has just reported that Mandal is acting for Mistry but according to our sources that is not correct.

Update 17:10: We have triple checked and the ET report is definitely incorrect.

Bombay bar’s loyalties get tested

The Bombay bar is also heavily linked to the Tatas, with local stalwarts such as senior counsel Darius Khambata, for instance, being a trustee of the Tata Trust.

According to the Economic Times citing an anonymous source, the Tatas, “anticipating legal trouble”, took legal opinions from several lawyers, consulting Harish Salve and Abhishek Manu Singhvi:

As part of its due diligence, the group held legal consultations with former Supreme Court judge RV Raveendran, and senior advocates P Chidambaram and Mohan Parasaran, sources said.

Such wide instructions and consultations, often also described as so-called ‘negative retainers’, would have disqualified Salve and Singhvi from acting for Mistry, for instance.

According to the Times of India, Mistry - who is married to the daughter of Bombay high court senior advocate Iqbal Chagla - had lined up “former solicitor general Mohan Parasaran and senior advocate Virag Tulzapurkar” to challenge his dismissal.

All lawyers we contacted for comment on this story either declined to comment or were unreachable for comment.

The Times of India reported yesterday that Mistry would file a case against the Tatas in the Bombay high court, with a “senior lawyer close to Mistry” telling the paper: “We are getting ready to move the high court as soon as possible--could be Tuesday or Wednesday--against this illegal decision that violates strict provisions for such sacking under the Articles of Association.”

According to a report in TOI today, the Tata Group denied that any litigation had been filed but has filed caveats in the Supreme Court, Delhi high court and the National Company Tribunal so that it would be alerted to any petitions filed by Mistry, giving it a chance to respond if he was seeking an ex parte order.

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