Sunday, February 27, 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.