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Shaadaab S. Bakht: The big don’t go to jail
March 09, 2018
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ON $2b indian SCAM 
 
 
If you look at the law closely, there’s every possibility that you will lose respect for it. You will understand why observations like, “If you follow the law you will lose direction,” have been made. Permit me to state and with conviction and in no uncertain terms that the above argument is not a wild cowboy outburst about India. I feel, you may not, that the remark is deep and should inspire a serious rethink about what often passes off as convincingly lawful.

The trigger for this discussion is the imprisonment of a bankrupt Indian villager for stealing a goat. Crop failure due to poor rains, a school-going child and the expensive treatment of an ailing wife had left him penniless. It was decided by the men of law, after a short trial, that his action was a crime and he would have to be punished. The men on the bench conveniently forgot that they were punishing him for his poverty and not the theft.

The villager did what he did because our set-up, called society, left his types without choice. 

He sees millions sitting on millions, he sees millions filling up granaries, he sees millions swimming in filtered water to keep fit and then he sees that his wallet is empty, his oven cold and his pitcher dry. Frustrated, he decides to embrace the belief that the end justifies the means. Expecting just morality to check him is too much because ethics appears like a soiled sergeant’s baton to the oppressed. And we will never understand that. Because only the struck know that the lightning is much more than just a flash.                                                                                                                                  

I am sure that the law being applied to the Modi case appreciates the difference between the value of
a goat and $2 billion
Let’s continue. Two billionaires, unlike the destitute villager, had been wrongfully raising loans in millions of dollars, a government report recently confirmed. Forget about their punishment, they are yet to be caught. 

The Punjab National Bank (PNB) in January uncovered a fraud, involving $2 billion, in which several bank officials were suspected of colluding with jeweller Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi to issue fraudulent letters of undertaking (LoUs), for their companies to raise loans from overseas branches of mostly Indian banks.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which has arrested 14 people in the case, said bribe was paid to at least one PNB official by Modi.

Now comes the rub. Modi and Choksi, who owns Gitanjali Gems Ltd, left India before the fraud came to light. The timing of the departure can’t be dismissed as coincidental. It will be puerile to do so, if not utterly idiotic.

So cavalier is Modi about the outcome of the investigation that when the CBI sent a communication asking him to return to India for the ongoing probe, the unruffled gem tycoon replied in the negative on the ground that he was tied up in his businesses abroad.

I am sure that the law being applied to the Modi case appreciates the difference between the value of a goat and $2 billion.

Without meaning to be cynical, I feel, like dozens of similar cases this one too will drag on till we begin to forget it. After all, unlike the helpless imprisoned villager, Modi’s accomplices were extremely powerful and proven financial minds. And they live in houses whose gates can’t be forced open.
  
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