Citizens' Issues
How India will protect nuclear liabilities of US firms
A $48-billion (Rs 3.26 lakh crore) penalty claimed by the US government from Volkswagen for cheating on diesel-car emissions is about 200 times as large as the $225 million (Rs 1,500 crore) insurance pool set up by Indian insurance companies to compensate US nuclear companies for mishaps in India.
 
If a US nuclear company were to build a reactor in India that suffered a catastrophe, and people were to die in India, the US government’s position seems to be that American suppliers shouldn’t face civil or criminal liability. The US believes the Indian civil nuclear liability law, which calls for both penalties, is unduly harsh. Rather than say so directly, US officials keep repeating that the “Indian law is inconsistent with the international liability regime".
 
The Indian civil nuclear liability law holds the equipment supplier responsible for any incident caused by the supplier or its employees. The Indian liability law differs from those of other countries because it was drafted keeping in mind the 1984 Bhopal tragedy – where, despite 5,000 deaths and effects across generations, no one was held criminally liable.
 
The penalty demanded in the Volkswagen case is about 100 times the compensation of $470 million – ($907 million in 2014 dollars) – paid by US firm Union Carbide after the Bhopal Gas tragedy, which also left 70,000 people maimed or injured. Volkswagen’s cover-up caused no injuries or deaths.
 
Although the Indian government wants to protect US nuclear companies against the Indian liability law, critics argued that these companies are using India’s eagerness to avoid any liability, if something goes wrong.
 
India wants to build more nuclear power plants in an attempt to reduce the share of coal in electricity generation. Increasing the use of nuclear power is also a part of the country’s strategy to tackle climate change.
 
India currently has 5,780 MW of nuclear power in operation and plans to add another 17,400 MW, making it possibly the largest market for nuclear power after China, and a financially lucrative prospect for Western firms faced with limited domestic sales.
 
However, the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster has heightened concerns of nuclear safety and accident costs. The fallout of that disaster will also make it hard to change India’s liability laws.
 
The US’ large settlements extend to corporate wrong-doing beyond its borders
 
Large settlements in the US are a regular feature. In October 2015, the Justice Department arrived at a settlement with oil major BP, which will pay a penalty of $20.8 billion to cover the economic and environmental damage arising from a 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
 
Volkswagen could, in theory, face fines of as much as $37,500 per vehicle for each of two violations of the law; up to $3,750 per “defeat device”; and another $37,500 for each day of violation, a Reuters report said.
 
In April 2010, a deepwater oil-drilling rig operated by BP, the Deepwater Horizon, suffered an explosion which killed 11 men, and the well it was drilling leaked over five million barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mexico.
 
This was the largest-ever settlement in the history of the Department; the Volkswagen penalty could be larger.
 
A number of companies have paid tens of billions of dollars in fines over the past decade for breaking US law.
 
Top US banks, such as Bank of America, JP Morgan, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley, have paid multi-billion dollar fines for their roles in the 2008 global financial crisis, caused by reckless business practices of large Western banks.
 
The remit of the US Justice Department extends beyond its borders and to foreign firms as well. In May 2015, five global banks–Citicorp, JP Morgan, Barclays, UBS and the Royal Bank of Scotland–agreed to pay fines adding up to $2.5 billion, for manipulating a widely-used financial benchmark set in London. This brings the total penalty paid by these banks for their role in this manipulation to $9 billion.
 
UK-based HSBC was fined for “illegally conducting transactions on behalf of customers in Cuba, Iran, Libya, Sudan and Burma”–countries under US economic sanctions.
 
During the financial year 2015, the US justice department collected $23 billion in penalties in various civil and criminal cases, slightly lower than the collection for 2013, when it had a record haul.
 
Indian firms also fined in the US
 
While the US nuclear industry wants to avoid any liability in India for acts of omission or commission, Indian companies have often been slapped with large fines for violations of US law.
 
Drug manufacturer Ranbaxy paid penalties of $500 million (Rs 3,400 crore) in 2013 for falsifying data about its drugs and for not following proper manufacturing practices–more than twice the value of the nuclear liability insurance pool to be created in India.
 
In 2013, tech firm Infosys paid a $35 million penalty in a civil settlement on allegations of visa misuse; the firm maintained that the “claims are untrue and remain unproven”.
 
India has started levying penalties too
 
India, too, has started levying big fines. For instance, in 2013, a group of Indian cement companies was fined Rs 6,698 crore by the Competition Commission of India for working as a cartel and over-charging consumers. This amount, levied for unfair business practices rather than causing deaths and injuries, is 4.4 times the proposed liability cap for nuclear incidents.
 
Similarly, Delhi-based real estate firm DLF has been recently ordered to pay a penalty of Rs 630 crore for unfair business practices.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

User

Dubey And His ‘Dubious’? Profession
With the ongoing issues related with lawyers and judiciary in the capital, this is a good time to read Ranjeev Dubey’s ‘Legal Confidential’ 
 
If a lawyer is asked to review peer literary work, he sees a problem. When the author’s name is Dubey, the problem seems compounded. Wrong on both counts. The book is readable and the lingo is fine. The introduction put paid to both apprehensions. That, in short, is Ranjeev Dubey’s ‘Legal Confidential’. Nice title; bit misleading.
 
The jarring notes first. He flirts with sex, in literature; not literally. A bit too often. Indian authors, from De to the new kids on the block, do it. Titillation seems de rigeur for any book these days. Does it sell? God knows. But then, see the titles. The Thakur Girls. Half Girlfriend, It Had To Be You. 51 shades of grey?
 
The advocate-lawyer link was a great connect; something that was personally so common. Maybe that was why the steamy bit was not too abrasive. Like Dubey, this reviewer went to a boarding school at 10. If the author has a highly developed sense of gladiatorial skills, one knows where it comes from -- being thrown in at the deep end in at an away-school. One soon learns that bullies are cowards. And Dubey has been a good learner. It has stood him in good stead as the book shows.
 
The survival instinct runs through the narrative. Surprising how the formative years, especially the adverse ones, grow additional limbs for support, life long. Dubey comes across as a fighter and a survivor. The English-medium backup is distinct. A bit crass, not much so, but it pulls the reader along. After all, language is the only weapon that a lawyer has. And Dubey is a successful lawyer who wields his rapier well.
 
One comes across bits and pieces, relevant to a young lawyer’s education, in the dog-eat-dog world that Ranjeev conjures up. There is much to learn; the most important being the need for Maginot Line warfare in the trial courts. He says that no lawyer can be good at his craft without living in the trenches of the subordinate jungles. True. Correct. Undisputable.
 
A lot of new graduates, when asked where they practise, answer with bloated rib-cage, “In the High Court”. Dubey would, if it were legal, shoot the sob on the spot. What the youngsters miss out on, by not putting it too fine, is that drafting skills need court-room experience. Legal agreements need to ensure that they will stand scrutiny in any court, whenever needed. Most seem to encourage the opposite trend. Airy-fairy, air-conditioned room stuff. Enough for the unlucky judge, who has to interpret them, to tear his hair out. One does not bring ‘The Art of War’ to a gunfight.
 
Ranjeev hits the ground running at the Tees Hazari Courts in Delhi. These are filled with what are called ‘adjournment advocates’. Experts at ‘taking dates’. He also encounters the full spectrum of judges. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Ranjeev’s favourite movie is also so named.
 
Ranjeev fits well into our system simply because it is adversarial. Arrogance, aggression, adversity, eventual annihilation are the vials that a lawyer needs in his medicine bag. Ranjeev has them and uses them. But then what good is a lawyer, if he is not a fighter? Law practice is not for the sissy, nor for the faint-hearted. Dubey is neither. Ups and downs, yes. But he pares metal with mettle.
 
The author dwells a lot on how he has been victimised. It’s overdone. Every where, at any time, people are going to be selfish. Whether it is his senior and mentor, Shanx, or the other ‘Dragon’, Deo, Ranjeev uses the book to tear, all those who cross his path, into shreds. Some women get similar treatment.
 
Law firms are as much political animals as any other organisation. Professional jealousy makes for deeper furrows. However, unlike the medical profession, the legal fraternity is more discrete. Doctors fight germs. Lawyers fight each other. And make sure that the litigating clients pay them both. Ranjeev, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
 
There is a lot of technical matter in some chapters. Most lawyers are tech-challenged. And smart-phone-operation-skills are not in that category. Ask them how to calculate the floor area of a flat, or the definition of FSI. They would refer you to an architect!
 
 Ranjeev, on the other hand, is well-versed in engineering and mechanics. He tells us of how tunnels are bored, lined (with cast iron plates), and about the unforeseen pitfalls, literally, in excavations.
 
That particular chapter is interesting.  A tunnel-boring machine is like a huge, horizontal cookie cutter. It has rotating blades that can cut through soft chalk, like in the Chunnel, or through solid rock. When soft, the boring is immediately followed with curved cast S G Iron plates to shore up the sides. Otherwise, it simply burrows through the basalt leaving a solid tunnel with no support needed.
 
Ranjeev’s client was the tunnelling contractor. The tender said it was solid rock all the way through. The clients quoted accordingly. They failed to read into the small print. The government had inserted a clause saying that, though they claimed complete soil testing of the site, the contractor better beware. Caveat Venditor.
 
Instead of hitting paydirt, the client hit pure dirt. Literally. Lots of it. Gooey stuff, fancifully called a ‘fossil cave’. It was a deep hole and Dubey’s client fell right through it. With that, the viability caved in. Call in fire fighter Ranjeev Dubey.
 
If you want to know what happened, and how to manufacture a Houdini Escape Mechanism, ……. well, you will have to read the book. Did the butler ‘did’ it? Or didn’t ‘did’ it? Pulling the wool over the eyes is putting it lightly. If the law is an ass, the lawyers are not donkeys.
 
Dubey has much to say about our city, Bombay, as it was so called, as well as the surroundings, like Silvassa and Daman. He was in the thick of it when the Inspector Raj, the Excise morons, the thieving industrialists, our own robber barons were the flavour of the season. A chapter is spent on duty evasion, the CST/ST fiddle in ‘invoiced manufacture’, and the honesty shown by non-desis. Of this, this reviewer is not so sure. Crooks abound everywhere.
 
All laws manufacture loop-holes. The holes are so large that the big fish sail through. It’s the tadpoles that get ensnared, unerringly, unfathomably. Ranjeev has seen his share. What he has not, or at least not mentioned, is the subsidy scandals where over-invoicing paid for the promoter’s share. All laws manufacture loop-holes!
 
The grimy life of a bachelor in Delhi is well portrayed. But millions of others go through the grind. Why should lawyers, even good ones, be excluded? Advocates do tend to exaggerate, and over-emphasise their importance. Multiple swanky pens in jacket pockets. Client-as-dirt policy. Special queues, for the black-robed, for entering elevators. As Drucker had said, “If you want parking space close to the door, ARRIVE EARLY”.
 
Fortunately, Ranjeev shows none of that attitude. He comes across as a businessman. Getting the thing done is priority A1. Laws and loopholes are only to remove roadblocks. Or to create them! Depending on which side of the fence his client is.
 
One last word, Ranjeev. Get a goooood editor, please. Narratives need the mercury treatment. Flow. Just as you would explain an old case to a new judge. And win. Will be reading your other books.
 
Good Luck.

 

 

 

 
 
Excerpt: The judge couldn't believe this was happening to him. "Write, they were in a compromising position", he barked. Then he turned to me. "Vakil sahib, client bacha rahe ho ya maze le raheho?" (Are you protecting the client or entertaining yourself?). Here's the deal. If a man claims he stumbled onto his wife getting it on with someone, all you need do is go on and on cross examining him about the lack of witnesses. You can ask him how is it possible that when tiny mud huts stand shoulder to shoulder in a jhuggi colony full of unemployed adults and unsupervised kids; his wife found this beautiful patch of perfectly screwable solitude to commit adultery? You can ask him why you should possibly believe such a nakedly self-serving story. You can assail his character. You can suggest he is morally challenged who gambled away his family fortune and cannot be trusted. Heck, you can call him a lying bastard and a rake. What you cannot and should never do is help him flesh out and detail his story. You must never ask a question the answer to which you do not already know. You should most definitely never get caught up in your beautiful insightful understanding of the legal principle and let that dictate your cross examination. At the end of the day, what a judge thinks of a witness is all about human sensibility, not legal principle: it's to the man inside the judge to whom you must appeal. I had cocked it up big time. It wasn't the end of the world: many lawyers lose nearly-won cases but this one remains by far the worst cross examination I have ever done. Mercifully, no harm was done. One year later, when the matter was finally argued before another judge, the whole testimony was nothing but a series of statements saying "They were in a compromising position" which meant nothing. I buried my blunder under the previous judge's embarrassment and saved the client from damnation. That's the thing about being a lawyer. Everyone gets paid to do a job right, but how many have so much fun doing it?
 
 
 

User

Facebook to launch ads in Messenger?
New York : A leaked document from Facebook has revealed that the social networking giant may launch ads within Messenger in the second quarter of 2016.
 
The document, obtained by the tech website Tech Crunch, read: "Businesses will be able to send ads as messages to people who previously initiated a chat thread with that company. To prepare, the document recommends that businesses get consumers to start message threads with them now so they'll be able to send them ads when the feature launches."
 
The document also notes that Facebook has quietly launched a URL short link fb.com/msg/. However, it does not open and says Page does not exist. 
 
"We do not comment on rumour or speculation. That said, our aim with Messenger is to create a high quality, engaging experience for 800 million people around the world, and that includes ensuring people do not experience unwanted messages of any type," the website quoted Facebook as saying.
 
Facebook is not going to let brands send ad messages to just anyone or even people who have liked their Pages but to only those who have voluntarily chatted with businesses. 
 
On Wednesday, micro-blogging website Twitter said it is bringing video support to Direct Messages to iOS and Android smartphones.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

User

We are listening!

Solve the equation and enter in the Captcha field.
  Loading...
Close

To continue


Please
Sign Up or Sign In
with

Email
Close

To continue


Please
Sign Up or Sign In
with

Email

BUY NOW

The Scam
24 Year Of The Scam: The Perennial Bestseller, reads like a Thriller!
Moneylife Magazine
Fiercely independent and pro-consumer information on personal finance
Stockletters in 3 Flavours
Outstanding research that beats mutual funds year after year
MAS: Complete Online Financial Advisory
(Includes Moneylife Magazine and Lion Stockletter)