Friday, 10 April 2009

The Satyam case - PWC partners

The PWC partners, S.Gopalakrishnan and Srinivas Talluri, who signed the Satyam balance sheets over the last few years are in jail for the last three months. Their latest bail petition was rejected yesterday.

Is it right for them to be jailed now ? I am not a legal man and have no pretensions to expertise in law, but from a common sense of what is right and wrong, this does not seem to be right.

The two partners seem to have been collectively charged, along with Raju and the others on criminal conspiracy and other counts, cheating (the famous 420) etc.

The fraud was not committed by them ; it was committed by those at Satyam. They may be guilty of colluding with Raju, but that has to be proven in a court of law. They may have been negligent, in which case they need to be dealt with by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. Or they may have just been incompetent in detecting the fraud, which is not an offence under law - if incompetence were an offence, millions of people would have to be in jail !

What is the logic for keeping them in jail before the trial has even started ? That they will tamper with the evidence ? Nonsense. Its already 4 months since the CBI has been investigating and if by now they haven't secured the evidence, they never will. That they will not cooperate with the investigation ? There seems to be no evidence of that - both the firm and the partners have said they will cooperate. That they will flee the country ? That can be easily achieved without locking them up. The ex CFO of Satyam, who is himself in jail, has said that the partners were not in a conspiracy. Raju has said the same thing. So why keep them in jail ?

I am proud to be a citizen of India, where, at least in name, the rule of law holds. Detention before a trial is not something to be summarily and endlessly used. If the partners are held guilty by a court , and if the verdict warrants a punishment in prison, by all means do so. But not until then.

I think this is a case of mobocracy. Everybody is angry at the fraud. So catch hold of anybody in sight (the more "important" they are, the better) and lock them up. Anger is somewhat assuaged. The mob is happy that VIPs are in jail.

That's not the India I am proud of. You are innocent, until proven guilty. Gopalakrishnan and Srinivas have not been proven guilty. They do not deserve to be in jail.

PS - After I made this post, I got an email from Niraj Kapasi who has posted a very good perspective on the affair in his blog at


Anonymous said...

Auditors can only do to the extent what informations are available to them. when the management has manipulated bank statements, which probably is the only source of independent confirmation on bank accounts it would not be fair to expect the auditors to challenge it unless any of the circumstances has led to that belief. (Auditors don't do an investigation).

Now when our politicians who have committed grave offences and get a bail (even compete in elections and become ministers), doctors who have used sysringes (used) which has resulted in death of hundreds can get a bail or remain free, I definetly believe it is unfair to treat the auditors on par with Mr Rajus who has actually committed the fraud.

I am sure there would have been an outburst a combined effort if the same has happened to a lawyer, doctor but we as CAs do not unite.

Ramesh said...

Thanks Anon - a measured comment. I agree that CAs are not as united (at least in making noise) as doctors or lawyers are.

Sandhya Sriram said...

As a partner of PWC with all the money and contacts it is quite unlikely that they could not have pulled off a bail in three months.

This proves a fundamental point - if there is political will - any one can be fixed.

All comments which we pass on slow judiciary, beuracracy and all that is crap.

the very reason why the law and order in our country is functioning like this is because we want it to function that way

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