What is Legal may not be Just

An interesting conundrum came up for discussion on twitter. The Summons to the Head of Samsung. A multi billionaire, the richest man of South Korea. Summoned to India to answer for a couple of million. The complainant – an Indian firm claiming it was cheated of less than a couple of million in 2005 by Samsung Electronics. The discussion started with – should there be an amendment to CrPC to waive personal presence of the respondent. To set the background I will narrate two incidents which really happened.

A Municipal Health Inspector visited a Corporate Hospital on a routine inspection. He found the oil content high in the canteen food supplied to patients. Immediately he issued notices for criminal proceedings against directors. The Hospital was part of a chain of hospitals across India with Directors being top businessmen both from within India and a couple of International Investors.

 

Another Hospital had routinely ignored warnings issued by the Fire Department and did not bother to correct vital defects. A fire accident occurred and 50 – 100 patients died. Avoidable deaths. If only the management had responded professionally to the notices. The Board of Directors were arrested en-masse.

 

An independent observer can take any one of following stand –

  1. in both cases, action by Government officials are justified.
  2. in both cases, not justified. (Read defense of arrested directors of AMRI, Kolkatta)
  3. a nuanced view.  

Coming to the specific issue of *Samsung*, there are two possibilities:

  1. The money is actually due to the Indian claimant, or
  2. The Indian claimant has a frivolous case but has exploited the Indian Criminal Law.

If the first is true, the complainant is being hounded and Samsung gets all the sympathy only because it is a foreign party. Just imagine what would have been the reaction if it was Reliance Industries and the Honcho involved, Mukesh Ambani?

If the second is true, my cynical view would be that

  1. Samsung failed to handle it properly.
  2. Now that the issue has become one of *izzat*, the two Governments should step in and resolve amicably.

Honestly speaking today it does not matter who is right. As international trade opens up, there will be hundreds of such issues. Most of them frivolous. some of them really serious. (Union Carbide – Bhopal).

We can’t frame our Law based on either. extreme.   

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