Sunday, June 21, 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.