Ashamed At Sorry State Of Affairs In India: Mohan Parasaran, SG*
Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran, who is highly regarded for his legal acumen, court craft and ice-cool temperament, has, on the eve of his resignation from the post, spoken his heart out on the ills plaguing the Country and what can be done to salvage the situation
*Title changed from “Ashamed To Be Indian” as the context appears to have been misunderstood by readers
Survival as top law officer was a “sheer miracle”
Mohan Parasaran did not mince any words in expressing his unhappiness at the way the Government functioned. He said it was a “sheer miracle” that he survived 10 years as the top law officer of the Country. He pointed out that appearing for the Government is like facing a fast bowler in a cricket match without the basic safeguards like pads, gloves, helmet etc. He lamented that the briefs get delivered at the last minute and there are no instructions on what is required to be done. There is a communication gap between the various ministries and the concerned ministry would not even be aware that its’ matter is coming up for hearing on a particular date, he said.
“Appearing for the Government is like working in a Govt. hospital” the wily Solicitor General added, emphasizing that you get all sorts of patients with all sorts of ailments and that you were expected to treat them with the most rudimentary of facilities.
Supreme Court’s judgement in Vodafone Judgement is wrong but retrospective amendment is a “knee-jerk” reaction
Mohan Parasaran made it clear that in his view the Supreme Court’s judgement in Vodafone is “completely erroneous” but he called the Govt.’s action of seeking to overturn it by a retrospective amendment a “knee-jerk reaction”. Mohan pointed out that instead of a retrospective amendment all the Govt. had to do was to clarify the definition of the word “transfer” in s. 9 of the Act.
Tax disputes should be resolved on fast-track basis
Parasaran expressed concern that mega disputes like Voadfone and Nokia were being allowed to “hang on for generations”. He pointed out that this caused great discomfort to foreign investors and that they were looking at China as a better investment destination. He urged the Govt. to be “bold” and enter into settlements and arbitration on a fast track basis and resolve the dispute.
Mauritius is not a “tax haven”
Mohan Parasaran came out with all guns blazing in favour of Mauritius. “It is not a tax haven like Cayman Islands or BVI” he said emphatically and with conviction in his voice. Instead, it has a strategic role to play as a gateway to Africa, Australia and Europe, which are big markets for India, Mohan added.
Surprisingly, Mohan Parasaran called New York “the greatest of all tax havens”. He did not elaborate on what he meant.
Ashamed at the sorry state of affairs in the Country
Mohan Parasaran expressed disgust at the fact that all major policy issues, whether it be in telecom, coal allocations, power, mining etc were mired in controversies and disputes. “I feel ashamed that even a country like Myanmar and Thailand, with such great political instabilities & local problems are attracting more investment than India” the legal luminary said with emotion in his voice.
“Unless we take off our shackles, be aggressive and take things hands on we will become retrograde and never improve” the Solicitor General added.
Mohan Parasaran was also upset at the act of the AAP Govt. in filing an FIR against the Oil Minister Veerappa Moily and the Union Cabinet over alleged corruption. He explained at length how the State Govt. has no jurisdiction to do so and how it subverted the entire federal structure of our Constitution. Parasaran also spoke his mind over the action of some State Governments (i.e. Delhi, under the AAP regime) of deciding not to implement the retail FDI policy. He explained that as the FDI policy had been approved by Parliament and even the Supreme Court had rejected a challenge to it, it was not open to the State Governments to now “get off the bus” merely because there is a change in the political party. He expressed concern that this sort of flip-flops & uncertainty would unnerve foreign investors who were planning to deploy large amounts of capital into India.