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Tata tables Charu suicide probe report

Tata Steel’s internal probe findings related to the suicide of its former top PR man Charudatta Deshpande have been tabled before its board but not made public, while Prabhat Sharma, his then deputy who is charged with abetment to suicide, will get either jail or bail on Wednesday at a Mumbai sessions court.

Tata Steel on Tuesday confirmed the findings of their probe were submitted to the company board.

“The internal inquiry committee has submitted its report to the Tata Steel board,” a company spokesperson said.

But, the “hush-hush submission” has angered many who have been fighting for Charudatta’s cause since he took his life on June 28, allegedly due to professional reasons.

“We have written to Tata Sons chairman (Cyrus P. Mistry) to release the probe report. It was supposed to be submitted within two months but it is five months now,” Press Club of Mumbai president Gurbir Singh told The Telegraph over phone.

“If the report has been submitted, why is the board delaying over making it public?” Singh asked.

Charudatta’s friends in PR and media circles in Mumbai had written to Tata Sons chairman emeritus Ratan Tata and chairman Cyrus P. Mistry seeking a probe.

Before taking the drastic step, Charudatta had allegedly told his friends in PR and media he was subjected to harassment from a section of the Tata management, including those in Jamshedpur, after the publication of a critical article in Forbes India titled “Remoulding Tata Steel”.

As Charudatta’s No. 2, Sharma was charged with abetment to suicide.

Booked under Section 306 (abetment to suicide) of the IPC by Thane police based on a complaint filed by former editor of Forbes India Indrajit Gupta on November 18, Sharma filed an anticipatory bail plea with Mumbai sessions court on November 26.

The court adjourned the case for December 4 and had directed police to file a reply to Sharma’s application.

Advocate Aabad Ponda will present Sharma’s bail application in court.

“The hearing is tomorrow,” Ponda confirmed.

Sharma, who went on leave after coming to know about the FIR against him on November 18, is in Mumbai but his cellphones are switched off.

Legal sources in Mumbai said Sharma would have to be physically present in court during his bail petition. In his application to the sessions court, he stressed he was cooperating with the police from the start.

Known as “Charu” in corporate circles, the 57-year-old killed himself at his Vasai home in Mumbai on June 28, over a month after he quit Tata Steel as corporate affairs and communications chief.

Initially, Thane police had registered the case as accidental death under Section 174 of CrPC, but later converted it into an FIR of abetment to suicide, a cognisable offence, when Charudatta’s friends, including former Forbes India editor Gupta, mounted pressure for a probe.