India’s legal system has become a source of anxiety, persecution and uncertainty. Legal avenues need to be insulated from being used as tools of intimidation and unnecessary delays
Those who have watched Subrata Roy, founder of the mysterious Sahara Pariwar, flaunt his powerful connections in business, politics, sports, films and government, find it hard to believe that he has spent the past three and half months in jail.
But for those who follow business news and court reports, the two-year trial in the Supreme Court of India had been stunningly bizarre. Each hearing was preceded with full-page advertisements carrying the most absurd claims and charges against the market regulator. This happened even though the group was represented by some of the most reputed and expensive legal brains in the country.
Many of us wondered why the Supreme Court allowed this drama to be played out at every hearing until Sahara’s attitude seemed to challenge the very credibility of our legal system. The 6 May 2014 order of Justice Jagdish Singh Kehar and Justice KS Radhakrishnan reassuringly tells us how the Sahara Pariwar’s attitude had angered the Court. Strangely, this part of the judgement has escaped media attention.
Justice Kehar, in his order, writes about how the Sahara hearings took up a lot of the Court’s time starting from 2012, when the case was intensively heard in the summer vacation. The orders, running into over 200 pages each, were prepared beyond working hours consuming hundreds of judicial hours of the apex court alone. Justice Kehar expressed the considered view that “the legislature needs to give a thought to a very serious malady, which has made strong inroads into the Indian judicial system. The Indian judicial system is grossly afflicted with frivolous litigation.
Ways and means need to be evolved to deter litigants from their compulsive obsession towards senseless and ill-considered claims. One needs to keep in mind that, in the process of litigation, there is an innocent sufferer on the other side, of every irresponsible and senseless claim. He suffers long drawn anxious periods of nervousness and restlessness, whilst the litigation is pending, without any fault on his part. He pays for the litigation, from out of his savings (or out of his borrowings), worrying that the other side may trick him into defeat, for no fault of his. He spends invaluable time briefing counsel and preparing them for his claim. Time which he should have spent at work, or with his family, is lost, for no fault of his. Should a litigant not be compensated for what he has lost, for no fault? The suggestion to the legislature is that a litigant, who has succeeded, must be compensated by the one who has lost. The suggestion to the legislature is to formulate a mechanism that anyone who initiates and continues a litigation senselessly, pays for the same. It is suggested that the legislature should consider the introduction of a ‘Code of Compulsory Costs’.”
Justice Kehar’s words will certainly gladden the hearts of millions of Indians who are scared and beaten by the slow and expensive senselessness of our judicial system which has rendered justice meaningless. Fortunately, the learned judge goes on to add that the Court’s view should not be seen as a suggestion to increase the cost of litigation, but to stop the rampant practice of delaying and prolonging disputes through the abuse of judicial process.
Another interesting point made in the order was that the State and its agencies are the main culprits who litigate endlessly to avoid the responsibility of taking decisions. Consequently, all administrative and executive decisions are being left to the courts. According to Justice Kehar, there must be consequences to fighting on after having lost in every forum. The Sahara case, said the Court, was a classic example where SEBI had to fight on at public expense, although every one of its orders was “consistently and systematically disobeyed”. At the end of the day, Court’s time lost is a direct loss to the nation, says the judgement.
Every Indian is aware of the significance of the Supreme Court’s words in the Sahara case. Add to this the damage caused by retrospective legal amendments made popular by former finance minister P Chidambaram and India’s legal system has become a source of anxiety, persecution and uncertainty. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fortunately announced its intention to correct the damage caused by retrospective amendments. If Justice Kehar’s views are also taken on board to create a fair, administrative system that prime minister Narendra Modi had promised, we can hope for real rule of law to start working in India over a period of time.
Will SEBI’s move on compulsory demat again create problems for investors instead of being a convenience?
On 19th June, chairman of Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI), UK Sinha announced a slew of decisions to ‘revive the capital market’. But the proposal for compulsory dematerialisation of shares has been deferred. Compulsory dematerialisation has obvious benefits for companies and intermediaries. Automated trading is swifter; it eliminates residual requests to transfer or dematerialise physical shares and generates revenues for depository participants (DPs) through various fees and charges. But, for long-term investors, especially those holding blue-chip shares for decades, this means paying annual maintenance charges in multiple DP accounts, depending on the combination of joint owners or nominees they decide on. Interestingly, although companies were persuaded to pay a one-time custody charge to depositories at the time of dematerialising their shares, no effort was made to get them to bear a part of the annual fee, despite huge savings through elimination of share-transfer work.
What happens to shareholders who are left holding suitcases full of worthless shares after the initial public offerings (IPOs) mania of the early 1990s? Many are holding on to the shares in the hope that some corporate action or takeover will allow them to recover at least a part of their investment. If SEBI insists on mandatory demat, they will end up paying charges to
keep holding worthless pieces of paper.
Long-term investors also want to avoid needless charges. After all, DPs charge for every corporate action—opening and closing accounts, dematerialisation, re-materialisation, pledge of shares, transfers and off-market transactions. All have a cost attached, apart from the annual charges. A reader, Hemant Dehadray, writes to say that transposition of shareholder names on a physical share certificate is done free of cost under the Companies Act. However, if the shares are in electronic form, the depository charges a flat fee or percentage of the transaction, whichever is higher.
Many investors who did not understand the costs attached to holding dematerialised shares found themselves paying annual charges for shares of companies that were suspended from trading or had vanished. Their complaints to the regulator fell on deaf ears. Many such investors are too disgusted to invest in the capital market again.
Investors who have entered the market in this century find the issue of mandatory dematerialisation trivial. But SEBI would do well to remember that, in the 25 years under its watch, nearly 10 million investors have deserted the capital market and prefer to park their money in bank fixed deposits, gold or real estate. The regulator would do well to avoid causing needless harassment to this set of investors, until it can fix the issue of annual demat costs or convince them about why dematerialisation is the better option.
We all know how to keep our body clean but many of us do not know how to keep our minds clean and devoid of all the negative and dangerous thoughts
“Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.”
-Kent M Keith
Our medical scare system tries to ensare you by frightening you with words like silent killer high blood pressure, silent killer diabetes, etc. The truth is that the most potent silent killer is your own mind. Where is the mind? All over you, indeed!
Consciousness is fundamental and all else is derived from that was the opinion of one of the great brains in physics, Max Planck. The human body is therefore, the extension. "Cogito ergo sum" or "I think, therefore, I am" for those uninitiated in latin maxims, was the famous proclamation by Rene Descartes back in the eighteenth century, although he used this formulation to divide the human body into two parts - the thinking part (res Cogitans) and the material part (res Extensa ). That is where the curse of reductionism in science first took root. Science started looking at bits and pieces to understand the whole. With all the wonderful advances in modern day physics pointing towards (w) holism, medical science still looks at bits and pieces, often becoming a bane to society.
Charles Sherrington, a Nobel winning physiologist, became the professor of physiology in 1899, he admitted that "positive sciences do not and cannot answer the question 'why?' That was precisely how silent killer hypertension etc. originated. Today with the understanding of (w) holism we are able to ask the pertinent question as to why does the blood pressure go up in the first place? Here
I am not referring to the disease, secondary hypertension, where we know the cause for elevated BP. I am talking of what modern medicine calls primary or essential hypertension. Similarly we now know why the sugar or cholesterol goes up, again excluding primary type I diabetes.
Now the reader will have to understand elementary human physiology. We have a healer inside us which is the most powerful healer and the best doctor in the world called the immune system. This has to be kept in good working order all the time. When we were mere hunger gatherers in the forest, our only cause of premature death was predation. Nature then endowed us with a very intelligent extra system called the autonomic nervous system which would keep us going when we are seriously injured as we did not have intensive care units then. What the intensive care unit does was being done by the autonomic nervous system in a better way. If could close up cut vessels, make the blood clot, get our blood pressure up when it went down and see that the vital organs got enough blood by redistributing blood more efficiently. In case we saw a tiger, the same system would make us capable of running away from danger by elevating our blood pressure, sugar, cholesterol and other sterols as a life saving measure.
Now that we are in a (un) civilized world, involved in our rat race to make money and get positions, we have to deal with human tigers every day. Many a times these tigers live with us as our near and dear ones. We are yet to evolve enough to get rid of the autonomic nervous system, and that might take millions of years of evolution. As of now we get the flight-fight-fright reaction of the forest tiger sighting with the same biochemical reactions and consequent altered blood parameters and BP rise. While in the forest the elevated levels used to be burnt up to give us energy to run. Today, we cannot run away from the metaphorical tigers. On a chronic basis we accumulate these elevated blood parameters and become hypertensive, diabetic, and what have you. So it is not the tail, elevated blood pressure, which wags its dog, the silent killer. It is the abnormal consciousness of fear and fight reactions of our atavistic human mind that does the trick. Unfortunately, in reductionist medicine we do not look at the whole and try to deal with the end result or symptom.
Cancer is another killer. Cancer cells are normal body cells that fail to die on their appointed time by apoptosis (normal programmed cell death) and mutate to become rogue cells. They are a bunch of jobless, aimless, wandering cells that might eventually become clinical cancers- weeks, months or even years after they get formed in the first place. So if we could screen for rogue cells, all of us would show many potential cancers inside us every day. Why do these cells grow to be cancers in some but die away in the majority? Here again the culprit is our mind. Negative thoughts like hatred, jealousy, anger and pride help the cells to grow to be cancers while love, camaraderie, sharing and caring (otherwise called spirituality) would try and destroy those rogue cells. Abnormal over-eating is another trigger for cancer cells to grow. A frugal diet might not encourage them.
Modern medicine also is now recognising hostility as the main culprit in heart attacks and anger as the cause for haemorrhagic strokes. Depression with frustration does bring on cancer and all other killer diseases in their wake. We all know how to keep our body clean but many of us do not know how to keep our minds clean and devoid of all the negative and dangerous thoughts. Every thought gets translated into a powerful chemical in the body which ends up doing all the damage or good depending on the thought being either negative or positive. How then do we do control our thoughts?
That is the job of the true educational system which, unfortunately we had completely destroyed this in India thanks to our colonial masters who wanted to keep us under their thumb. Every new born child is a genius and a Godly person only to be converted into an idiot and a devil in the present schooling system where negative thoughts and competition are taught. From day one in school those innocent compassionate children are graded with ranks and marks and are made to be aware of their individuality. The altruistic "we" concept gets transformed into the dangerous egoistic "I" concept. That I leads to illness in later life while e WE would have encouraged wellness.
Education must make Healthy minds and not just wealthy careers. A Healthy mind is defined as that which has "enthusiasm to work and enthusiasm to be compassionate". Indian Sanatana dharma, which goes back millenia, has had all those beautiful ideas but was all but removed from the educational arena. We still follow the British model in our schools and colleges while Britain is slowly taking ideas from our ancient system. Let us be human and humane in our social intercourse for us to develop a healthy mind which is the best vaccination for all killer diseases and the mercury containing chemical vaccines that we load our children with. Even Adam Smith had defined education as that which trains a man to act "justly, skilfully and magnanimously under all circumstances of war and peace". This world runs through your consciousness. Matter comes into existence when observed by you. This new concept is called bio centrism, a brain child of that great thinker physician Robert Lanza. It may be time to reconsider our most common beliefs about healthcare.
“The truth can only offend those who live a lie!”
(Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Science of Healing Outcomes, chairman of the State Health Society's Expert Committee, Govt of Bihar, Patna. He is former Vice Chancellor of Manipal University at Mangalore and former professor for Cardiology of the Middlesex Hospital Medical School, University of London.)