Sunday, 27 February 2011

Bernie Madoff vs Ramalinga Raju

Madoff and Raju. Both guilty of gross financial impropriety. On a scale that boggles the mind. Both confessed readily to the wrong they have done. In fact both the cases came to light because the protagonist confessed to it. The heat became too much and they had virtually no choice but to come clean. But therein ends the similarity.

In the case of Madoff, the date was 10 December 2008. He was immediately arrested, but released on bail. His case came to court on 12 March 2009 wherein Madoff pleased guilty. He was sentenced on June 29 to 150 years in jail. So off he went to jail. End of story.

Raju's famous letter of confession came on 7 January 2009. After a few days of drama, he was arrested and sent to jail. But then ..... . Nothing. There is still no conviction in a court of law. In fact, there is no sign of a conviction in a court of law. The company, meanwhile, has bee n resurrected in a text book case of brilliant government and management action. They have even settled the class action suit in the US. But Raju continues to remain an undertrial.

India has an extremely dangerous tendency to "convict" a person by media and not necessarily informed public opinion. A primary construct in a society ruled by law is that a person is innocent until proven guilty. In India, its often guilty until proven innocent. That's why , in the infamous Tihar Jail, there are reportedly more undertrials than convicted criminals. Some undertrials have spent longer time in the jail than what their maximum sentence would have been if they had been convicted.

Both the investigating and judicial systems must hang their head in shame. Raju confessed to his action. He hasn't since retracted his confession or anything to that effect. The accounting fraud was quite simple and , by now, well established. Is it that difficult to bring this to trial and convict ??

Raju, is like any other citizen of the country. He deserves the right to be tried. He should be punished, but only after conviction in a court of law. The President must issue a dictat - bring Raju to trial in a week and complete the trial in a month, If you can't do it, release him and he should walk a free man.


gils said...

sariyaaaana theerpu...thala..neenga notaamaiya poi neethiya nela naaatunga

Anonymous said...

Yes, he ought to be convicted and not be enjoying life in a I class cell!

RamMmm said...

No agreeing to this (naataamai style theerpu). By your last para, you are giving a special status to Raju. Let him rot (downgrade his jail facility. he happily was in hospital citing 'heart/liver' problems, just like our politicians who get heartache just as they are arrested) and wait his turn before the long queue of undertrials before him are disposed of. :-) Even with fast track courts the delays are immense.

Aside, he seems to have done so much of jugglery in his trail of deceit and probably he clammed up after he accepted fraud. Maybe it is even more rotten than what he said he has committed?

Sandhya Sriram said...

but isnt it every where. its not just Raju. Look at Ruchika's case. it took 20 years to prove him guilty and after all that he spent 170 days in jail before being released on bail.

and then, look at Justice Hegde. has anyone ever been charged for anything despite him coming up with all the proof which are more than enough for sentencing the culprits to more than 150 years.

we are still talking about Bofors... maybe when CWT or 2G gets closed, my son would be googling 20 years from now to understand what actually happened and maybe your (Girl) friend "wiki" could help him.

i guess one of the few blog of Ramesh which you can only close with frustration rather than a suggestion.

zeno said...

As Ram says, you issue a dictat, you make him a special priviliged guy.
Raju walking away free??
The rational and logical thoughts presented here shows that indeed i am reading your blog, but still can't believe you would say we should let him scot free just because his guilty cannot be proved[Considering your say accounting fraud was simple and well established]

He should rot just for the agony he caused to the investors during the meltdown!

gils said...

maybe our judiciary has a secret unlisted punishment..keep them in jail as long as possible and let nature take its revenge!!

Ramesh said...

@Gils - Indeed that's the approach - arrest and jail them and even if the case takes 20 years to solve they are already in jail. This is what I meant by guilty until proven innocent.

@Hema - Actually the cell conditions ought to be drastically improved. Indian jails are one of the most awful of places - I cell or not !

@RamMmm - Agree, Raju shouldn't get any special status. What I say applies to each and every undertrial. Every one of them deserves a trial else they should be released. Taking away someone's personal liberty before conviction simply because the judicial system is not capable of implementing the law is simply no excuse. In this day and age, courts taking vacations is a joke. Why can't they sit 15 hours a day and dispose cases - work like all of us do ??

@Sandhya - Yes indeed, its not just Raju. As I wrote many undertrials are locked up for longer than the maximum sentences possible for their crime. The rot in the judiciary is as bad as the rot in many public institutions and their claim of holier than thou deserves to be kicked. Look at the number of allegations against Supreme Court judges and not one has been even censured.

@zeno - No zeno Its a matter of principle of a free society that the rule of law must prevail. No man is guilty unless convicted in a court. Yes, its better to set him free than to keep him as an undertrial for ever. As indeed for every other undertrial. We should not succumb to the temptation of trial by public opinion.

J said...

The legal enforcement rather lack of it is probably the weakest link in our democracy. It is a rule of law only on paper. No one is held responsible for not trying people in a timely fashion. At some point the people will and should demand it of the judicial system

Anonymous said...

Oh no....I dont mean that our cells are in any great shape at all! I understand that he is awarded the special prisoner status and been given a lot of comfort. And also that there is an advisor who coaches him on the situations how to get the best of facilities from the authorities etc...hence mentioned " I class treatment".
Ofcourse our judiciary sucks unable to put an end to the turmoil of the undertrials - special status or not!

Deepa said...

I may cringe seeing Bernie Madoff and Ramalinga Raju in the same line, because in my eyes, Bernie is nothing but a con who's ponzi scheme ran as far as it could, whereas, Raju is an enterpreneur who got carried away to a point where he lost his judgement of right and wrong. I'd still like to give it to him that he built something.

But the fact of the matter is that a chit of a con received a fair deal than an enterpreneur going astray. I'd certainly like to live in a world where punishments are fair and commensurate with the crime, rather than random mouse traps, you may/may not get snapped in. But the more I am away from my country, the more strongly I feel, its us who have tolerated the nonsense so far and let it be this way.

Anonymous said...

Cant say much as most have been told already.In this country a lot many needs to be changed and the top priority one is our judicial system.

Vishal said...

Hassles caused to the undertrials in our judiciary system is so painful. If your post was about the people who famously committed and admitted the fraud, what about hassles caused to people who walk free for lack of evidence and are actually innocent?? The whole process is so tedious and cumbersome. Quite agree with your thoughts on this matter.

PS - did you happen to watch India England match on Sunday. I assume that you wrote this blog during the innings break. :P

Ramesh said...

@Deepa - Yes indeed - neither of them is pure good or bad. Madoff contributed a lot to charities too. And yes, its us who have tolerated sloppiness in our public life. The rot in our judicial system is well known and anybody unfortunate to have to deal with it knows it first hand. Yet we accept and carry on ....

@ambulisamma - Yes, lots need to change in our judiciary. Of all the institutions in the government, the judiciary and the army are probably the most respected and yet both have massive holes in their functioning.

@Vishal - While the not so famous get a raw deal very often in judiciary, something in our Indian ethos says we must be stricter with the famous than others. We seem to have no sympathy at all for the famous. I believe famous or not, everybody deserves an equal treatment. Oh yes, I did write this during the innings break !!

Ramesh said...

@J - Your comment that its the rule of law only in paper is very apt and set me thinking. Even worse than no rule of law is a false sense of belief that law will prevail. Just goes to show how vulnerable we are if we ever have to fall within the ambit of judiciary.

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