Tata Sons and Tata Steel have swung into damage control mode following the extensive media reporting of the murky circumstances surrounding the alleged suicide of Charudatta Deshpande, the journalist turned corporate communications head of Tata Steel, on Friday, 29 June 2013.
Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry has reacted to the impassioned letter addressed to him and his predecessor Ratan Tata by nine friends and colleagues of Charudatta Deshpande.
In a letter to former Forbes India editor, Indrajit Gupta, one of the nine signatories to the letter who has offered to testify before an investigation committee, Mistry writes:
“Thank you for your communication of June 30th. I am deeply shocked at the sudden passing of Charudatta Deshpande. He was not formally with us at the time of his demise. But he was one of us in ways that go beyond the niceties of employment.
“We mourn for him and, at this time, our thoughts and prayers are with his family.
“You have referred in your letter to allegations about how he was treated in the last few weeks before his end. We take these allegations with the utmost seriousness. We have put in place an appropriate mechanism to look into these and take necessary action.
“Let me assure you the Tata group does not and will not condone any action of the kind insinuated in your letter.
“Thank you once again for getting in touch with us.
The Tata group has formed a four-member panel to investigate the circumstances surrounding the alleged suicide of Charudatta Deshpande.
A press release issued jointly by Tata Sons and Tata Steel reads:
“Yesterday, Dr Mukund Rajan, the chief ethics officer of the Tata group, stated that the allegations relating to the demise of Charudatta Deshpande had been taken most seriously by the group and an appropriate process would be established to ascertain the facts.
“Accordingly, a committee chaired by Ishaat Hussain, non-executive director of Tata Steel, and including Mukund Rajan, N.S. Rajan, the group’s chief human resource officer and Bharat Vasani, the group general counsel, has been constituted to ascertain the facts.
“The committee has been mandated to convey its findings direct to the Board of Tata Steel within the next two months.”
Earlier in the day, the Tatas also denied the insinuation contained in two letters that the Tatas had sought to “sully” Charudatta Deshpande’s name after his death:
“No Tata company would condone or authorize any action or behaviour as reported in sections of the media. As confirmed yesterday, we will establish an appropriate process to ascertain the facts and take action accordingly.
“We are shocked and distressed by his passing. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.
“We also categorically deny any action by the company concerned and/ or its partners to sully the name of the deceased.”
Photograph: courtesy The Indian Express