Archive for April, 2015

The Union Cabinet approved amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA), 1988, that brings corruption into a heinous crime. New amendments mean stringent punishment for the perpetrators of heinous crime. Now, both giver and taker of the bribe will be scanned and punished according to the new law, and this time it will be not less than 2 years and can exceed to as long as 7 years. The maximum 5 year trial is changed in 7 years imprisonment which makes corruption a heinous crime in the eyes of the judiciary of India.

The most promising part of the new amendment, which will surely help to curb the rampant corruption is the reduced timeline that ensures speedy trial. Now, the court will not take more than two years for the trail and the verdict will be announced in the two years’ time. These amendments are in line with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and fills a gap between international laws and domestic laws.

But, the relaxation given to ex. government employees doesn’t seems in favour of the nation and works more like a protective umbrella for public servants. I am afraid that government employees will treat it like a circumvent law to escape the deserved punishment. It is good to see that the amended anti-corruption law strictly deals with the corruption in the Indian corporate sector, as commercial entities will also be considered culpable apart from their employees found guilty of malpractices, while in the present law, only individuals are liable. The law should be equal for all and it should treat everyone equally. There is no need to provide a protective shell to government employees in the guise of national interest.

The Prevention of Corruption Act came into the practice in the year 1988, to wage a war against the rising corruption level in the independent India, to end the prevailing culture of bribery and illegitimate use of national resources. It was revised in the year 2013, but the current amendments make it more viable and holistic. These new amendments have kindled some hopes and the nation expects the right execution of this stricter version of the anti-corruption law.

The Banking Ombudsman Scheme by RBI is a good move to check the deficiencies of banks in meeting customers’ requirements and solving their conflicts with active intermediation. One should be cautious as well as careful in reading the banks’ terms and conditions pertaining to particular service if one is going to take. The mixed economy of India is thriving on public as well as private banks and the advent of foreign commercial banks has revolutionised the whole sector. These changes improved the banking facilities in India, but it is also true that many people are suffering from the ill-treatment on few occasions.
If you are one such victim and your grievances are still unheard, then file your complaint before the Banking Ombudsman. The Banking Ombudsman Scheme, under the RBI is a process to resolve customers’ complaints regarding certain services of the bank. The Banking Ombudsman is the mediation of RBI authorised person in fixing customers’ complaints between the scheduled banks and their customers. There is a common myth that Banking Ombudsman Scheme always favour a customer/service taker, it is absolutely wrong, the ombudsman impartially investigate a  issue and also penalise a customer for wrong or criminal activities.

A customer complaints to the Banking Ombudsman when his/her bank did not response to the complaint within a month, or bank rejects the complaint, or the complainant get unsatisfied with the bank’s response. This quasi judicial authority can summon both the parties to resolve a problem through mediation. One can find the Banking Ombudsman in the state capital, at present, 15 banking ombudsman offices cover the entire country. Now for the convenience of people the online submission is also possible on the Reserve Bank of India’s website. The new Banking Ombudsman Scheme, additionally provides for the institution of an ‘appellate authority’ for appeal against an award passed by the Ombudsman both by the bank as well as the complainant.

Problems like stopped transaction services or delay in payment, submission without any sufficient cause, levying commission charge for a service without any prior notice. Ignorance and delay in issuing drafts, pay orders and bankers’ cheques, issues like these can also be addressed Banking Ombudsman. These are only the few issues of the 27 services of the banks encompassed under the Banking Ombudsman, the entire list one can find on RBI’S website. The old saying “prevention is better than cure ‘ is the best solution to safeguards the interest of banks’ customers. It is advisable, before availing the services of bank, a customer must carefully read all the terms and conditions of that bank.

Today, The nation feels pride on the sworn-in of Raja Rajeswari, the first India-born woman to be appointed a judge in the New York City. Of course, this a great news for all of us, but for Indian women, Rajeswari is a beam of hope and she kindled a fresh spirit in their struggle for women rights and empowerment. The 43 year old advocate previously worked with the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office for her entire career and she last served as Deputy Chief. She motivated the women of the 21st century, through these inspirational words, “I told the mayor this is not only my American Dream, but it shows another girl from a far away country that this is possible.” In the past 16 years, she has worked on various sensitive cases pertaining to the emerging global issues of women and children, and she is very much contented to work for them.

women-safetyWomen should come forward and join the judiciary as they can better understand women’s issues and can strongly raise their voice for justice and rights. Indian women have shown their potential in almost every field, be it education, health, politics or the arts. Now, it is the high time to exhibit their talent in the judiciary and make the system more accountable and transparent. Because, judiciary, legislature and executive are the three prime branches of the Indian constitution and women must represent their strength in all the three branches of the government.

The world is evolving at the speed of light, people are more educated and aware about their rights. Unfortunately, despite such a big revolution in communication and education, women are still the victim of exploitation, domestic violence, workplace harassment and social prejudices. Even the lawmakers and bureaucrats are stereotyped and bit biased in dealing the issues of this weaker section of the society.

Women like Raja Rajeswari and Fathima Beevi are the source of inspiration for many women who want to serve the judicial system of India. It is absolutely true that female judges can better understand the problems of women and aspirants and they can ensure social, political and economic growth of the women. Therefore, for absolute empowerment of women, the judiciary demands their absolute participation and an unflinching determination to strive against all odds.

Whether it is Satyam or Sahara scams the debacles in the corporate sector not only disturb a market, but also resist investors for capital inflows. To save the interest of stakeholders, market growth and economy of a nation, strict corporate governance is very much essential. The role of SEBI is very much important in this regard as it is the ultimate watchdog of the Indian stock market. Entrepreneurs, SEBI and Judiciary all have different opinions on Company Bill-2012. But, they all are thoughtful, that we required a more relevant corporate governance bill, relevant to the business practices and compliance system in India. Only a relevant model can make a tab on the frauds and malpractices in the long run and we have to adopt a system which may work for longer period.
According to  Narayana Murthy, Chief Mentor, Infosys Limited. “Corporate governance is maximizing the shareholder value in a corporation while ensuring fairness to all stakeholders, customers, employees, investors, vendors, the government and the society-at-large. Corporate governance is about transparency and raising the trust and confidence of stakeholders in the way the company is run. It is about the owners and the managers operating as the trustees on behalf of every shareholder – large or small.”

2003 was the landmark year in the Indian economy when the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India established the National Foundation for Corporate Governance with the collaborative efforts of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) and Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) for the promotion of  better corporate governance practices in India.

To attain economic stability and sustainable growth, Our country should strictly follow the Companies Bill-2012. A medium of good governance, framework of best practices and promoter of ethical business practices is a delayed but good initiative of Government of India. But, there are still a few things which need to be revised in the Companies Bill, 2012 as it is inspired from the UK model and there many dissimilarities in the nature of UK and Indian economy. India should follow a strict compliance system as almost twenty per cent of companies do not even comply with basic shareholding reporting norms set by the SEBI. For this we required more people and resources and their effective utilisation to scrutinise and govern the market.

Corporate Bill-2012 is an important initiative which is taken by the Government of India, but we need to make some required amendments in a realm of compliance systems and corporate laws.

2G case, Satyam fraud, Coalgate and many such other issues bluntly tarnished India’s image in last couple of years. Reeling under a series of corruption scandals, foreign investors sometimes feel apprehensive to invest in India, though they are aware that Indian market has great potential and it is one of the favourite business destination for US and UK’s entrepreneurs. India would attract more foreign investors if it had a reputation of clean and non-corrupt country.

CAG report about 2G scam says. “The entire process lacked transparency and objectivity and has eroded the credibility of the DoT.” To boot, 85 licensees did not meet basic eligibility conditions; some had provided incomplete information and submitted fictitious documents. The 2G telecom controversy may well have ended like many others before it death by silence but for a confluence of events that included rising public anger over other corruption scandals. For more than a year since the spectrum allocations in early 2008, media reports had highlighted its flaws. Even after Raja quit, India’s Supreme Court asked the prime minister’s office to explain why it took 11 months to respond to a petition filed in November 2008 by Subramanian Swamy, president of the Janata Party, seeking permission to prosecute Raja.

In another case; the Satyam fraud, even after confessing to inflating profits by Satyam Technologies’ former CEO Ramalinga Raju, nothing has been done to retain the confidence of investors and for many the whole episode was a business nightmare.  Corollary to this, in a similar type of fraud in US, the fraudster was awarded with 150-year of imprisonment. In our neighbouring country; China, corruption cases are typically settled through physical punishment including execution and lifetime jail sentence.

There is an urgent need to take prompt actions against the guilty to rebuild confidence in India as a destination for foreign capital. The judiciary should obey Rule of Law and irrespective of the designation and status, judiciary must penalise the perpetrators of law to ensure justice and transparency in business and financial activities. Whether politicians , high-profile officials or a common man all should be equal before the law and must receive deserved punishment. Once that happens, everybody will respect the constitution and think twice before doing a fraud. Both judiciary and bureaucracy must take initiatives to curb corruption and illegal practices in business. In addition, it is the foremost duty of Indian people to wage a war against corruption using different platforms such as social media. To curb corruption judiciary must take prompt and strict actions without having a soft corner in heart for politicians and influential persons in the society.