Monday, 22 June 2009

The unfortunate PWC partners

Is there a justice system in India ? Does it really work ? I’m not so sure.

These plaintive questions are in response to the continued detention of S Gopalakrishnan and Srinivas Talluri, the PWC partners who had certified the accounts of Satyam Computers. I argued that their detention is completely unwarranted here.

They continue to be behind bars. One after another, their bail petitions are rejected. When I wrote the earlier piece in April, I had expected that they would be released shortly. We are in end June, and it has still not happened. Read an account of their ordeal here.

I am not a legal man. I am just an ordinary citizen of India. But India is a democracy. The ordinary citizen has a voice too. So here’s mine. This is an open letter to anybody in the justice system in India

- May I remind you that in law, you are innocent until proven guilty. It appears that this principle does not apply in India.

- Detention pre trial is not a matter of routine. I know you lock up thousands of people for periods beyond what their jail sentences would have been even if they had been found guilty. That doesn’t justify doing it all the time. Shame on you.

- In this case, there is absolutely no reason to believe that either of these two gentlemen, or PWC for that matter, would not cooperate in the investigation. They have provided you 50,000 pages of information. They are not going to run away – you have enough ability to prevent that.

- Your system stinks. When umpteen Members of Parliament have criminal cases pending against them and they sit in Parliament, when convicted criminals are at liberty for years as the appeals process drags on, you lock people up , at will, for months and years, even before their case comes up for trial.

- Bring these two gentlemen to trial. If they are found guilty, by all means lock them up and throw away the key. But only after they are proven guilty. Right now, it appears they were guilty of incompetence, but not guilty of a crime. If incompetence is a criminal offence, the entire lot of you must be locked up for ever.

- What happens if after trial these two are not found guilty. Who’s going to recompense them for the months they have spent in the hellhole you call a jail. I would suggest that the Head of the CBI and the judge who keeps rejecting their bail petition spend an equal amount of time in the same cell in repentance.

Let me also suggest to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in India that you deserve to be quartered and censured for not even whimpering when two of your members are being subject to blatant injustice. Can you please justify why you exist ?

Let me just clarify that I don’t know either Gopalakrishnan or Srinivas, have never met them, never worked with them and hold no candle for them as individuals. But they deserve better, in this country of ours, where we claim the rule of law prevails.


A journey called Life said...

how true.. and i liked all your different possible solutions.. its always people like this who are given the raw deal (i mean they have still not been proven guilty) ... but the scores of terrorists,antisocials, law breakers- some of them in the garb of politicians get to walk scot free.

Ramesh said...

Yeah - In the famous BMW case, the accused was given bail in 4 months, even though there was enough and more evidence that they were buying off the witnesses. And that was a criminal case involving people dying. There are different laws for the politically connected

Ashwini Shenoy said...

When I see how political people interfere in justice systems in criminal drama (Prison Break, CSI etc) I always think - maybe this is how it works? When the mighty people are disadvantaged, they can influence the so call "independant" judiciary system to make it the way want it to be. I mean its not like the thought popped into my head after seeing it happen in sitcoms, but thats when I realized how there is a lot of scope to influence the Justice systems. It makes me despair to think of the plight of the thousands held in detention who have not even been given a trial date. I do hope the undertrials get the justice they deserve - the right to a fair and speedy trial.

Ramesh said...

@ Ashwini - Yes you are right. When the mighty bend the rules it causes outrage. Kiran Bedi's book on the Tihar Jail experience was a shocker as to how undertrials are treated. I'm not sure at all that we can call our country one where the law holds. It holds as long as you don't caught in the web. Once you are in, god help you.

Btw - thoughtful train, please come back !!

le embrouille blogueur said...

There is a saying in Bengali ...."baaghe chhule 18ghaa,police chhule 36 ghaa"..which roughly translates into - "a tiger's paw = 18 scratches, a police involvement = 36 scratches" is scary to think how the rich and the powerful can get away with the worst while the "innocent till proven guilty" have no one to fight their cause...and that is when they depend to Providence in our country is open to be customized based on the social standing...I wish someone out there notices your concerns and if there are enough voices ....there can be some "real" justice ....appreciate your pointing out the truth Ramesh...again !!

rads said...

Hmm sad the Indian law doesn't feel the pain...looks like a deep rooted revenge is being vented finally...though I'm not sure about what the actual story is, there's no way its such a crime that bail shud be denied continuously...nice post Ramesh...lets jus wish someone form the govt. reads this and relieves the poor souls...

Satish said...

Just realised how muck lack of apathy we all have, given our day to day lives. Till I read this post had just forgotten about these guys. You do feel bad but you have so many things to do that you move on - it is not that you are bothered just that there are other priorities in your life.
Completely agree with your views. Incompetent they may be, but treating them like criminals is just not right. Surprisingly even PWC does not seem to be doing anything for them. You would think a big company like that would go out of its way to protect its employees including hiring the most expensive lawyers to fight and win for its employees. Those guys must be cursing their stars for having joined this profession, which is unfortunate. Agree they deserve better than this. Feel especially bad for their families who must be going through agony. Incidentally there is no news of Raju. Our courts, should somehow expedite the trial process and conclude the agony one way or the other for everyone's sakes.

Anonymous said...

I am back, Ramesh! All this while there was some code error when I comment from thoughtfultrain id.

Ramesh said...

@blogueuer - The Bengali saying is bang on. Unfortunately so.

@rads - the law, unfortunately, is both uncaring, and painfully slow

@satish - I am amazed why anybody wants to be a partner anymore. You take a massive personal risk which you take in no other profession.

@thoughtful train - Hurray. It just isn't the same if the thoughtful train is not on the rails.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree, the arrest of Auditors in Satyam case in unwarranted and what I hear In nowhere in history of Audit world they have arrested. It only happens in India and I love my India. As some one quoted BMW case to add to that Fodders scam from Bihar, went inside for week became Railway minister and noe relaxing in Bihar, Planning for next scam. Mayawati Taj Corridor scam. Except TAh mahal she sold everyting in Agra. She want her Status and Kanshi Ram to put in Taj Mahal. The guys are never caught. My assumption CBI is less smarted than thes folks. But when it comes to PWC Auditors CBI is smart making sure they dont come out. Democary does not work for common people it works smart people like Laloo, Mayawati, Mulayam.

It is like playing cricket with Emerging country everyone plays and make records. So my friend when thing come to CBI from a common man CBI shows how powerfull they are to hide their in competency by arresting bigger fish.

Ramesh said...

@ Anonymous - I understand your sentiments as justice must not only be delievered, but seen to be delivered. I won't comment on specific political cases as that is outside the scope of this blog, but I can see why there is a general percpetion of lack of equality in the eyes of the law. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

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