In probably the first such action in India, NDTV, through its law firm Amarchand Mangaldas has sent a legal notice to Sanjay Dutt, who holds a 1% stake in the broadcasting company for raising questions about its corporate policies and practices
In June, Moneylife wrote how Sanjay Dutt, director of Quantum Securities, has levelled a series of allegations about wrong practices and poor governance at NDTV Ltd. He made these charges in writing to almost every regulatory authority in India – the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, the Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and other institutional investors. See our report Allegations of NDTV’s Many Shenanigans. Following our article, on 27th June 2013, NDTV Ltd sent a legal notice to Quantum Securities, Sanjay Dutt and directors of the company, (27th June 2013) through its law firm Amarchand Mangaldas accusing him of making defamatory statements, writing to various regulators and ‘launching a tirade’ against NDTV because he bears a ‘grudge’ against the broadcaster. This is probably the first time that charges by a significant shareholder have been termed ‘defamatory’ by a company, mainly because he was a ‘remunerated consultant’ sometime in the past. Mr Dutt and his firm Quantum Securities hold a significant stake in NDTV.
Essentially, the legal notice enumerates all the allegations that it has made in the letters attached to the article above. It also asks Sanjay Dutt to tender an unconditional apology to NDTV and withdraw all the letters, emails and complaints that he has sent to various authorities. Moneylife learns that far from apologising, Mr Dutt sent another letter to SEBI seeking the regulator’s intervention to help a ‘minority shareholder’. What is unique is that none of the regulators have responded to Mr Dutt, not even to dismiss his charges as false. Yet, the same SEBI has now been armed by the government with powers of search, seizure and attachment.
It is just short of a month since NDTV sent the notice, but it has apparently not translated this to actual litigation as yet. Therefore, it is time to revisit what Mr Dutt has to say. We also emailed NDTV’s executive vice chairman Narayana Rao asking if the litigation is filed.
The NDTV promoters together hold over 61% of the equity as per public records. In response to Moneylife’s queries, its executive vice chairman KVL Narayan Rao confirmed the serving of the legal notice and the sequence of events leading up to it. But, nearly a month after its legal notice and our first article, there is no sign of NDTV actually filing defamation charges against Mr Dutt.
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