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An estimated 2-minute read

For The Sake Of Argument

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In recent times, the Supreme Court passed a landmark judgement in the Vodafone-Hutchison deal case which saved the international telecom giant from shelling out a whooping 11,000 crores. It has proved that the judiciary, however slow and inefficient at times is truly independent. However, something that has gone unnoticed is the fact that the Indian government is currently corporate India’s chief adversary in the courts.

Just as in the Vodafone case, when the income tax department was hoping to use the money to plug a fiscal deficit, other Indian corporates are also embroiled in a number of small civil cases, which are now bordering on petty. Moreover, when civil cases don’t get the required attention of the judiciary, they try to add a criminal flavour to it. These corporate houses, which usually need not more than 7-10 lawyers in their in-house legal departments are now known to employ 50 or more.

India has never been an excessively litigious country. Unlike in the States, we do not turn every slight disagreement with our neighbour or colleague into a law suit and that is something to be proud of, because alternative methods of dispute resolution are a sign of a mature legal fraternity. The only rebel to this rule seems to be the government who in times of a slowdown is desperate to squeeze out as much funds as they can out of the big corporates in India. From the Tatas to ICICI bank, every firm has cases pending against the government in courts.

I guess this situation could be perceived both ways. The bad news is that these lawyers, who could be applying their knowledge and expertise to cases based on more logical grounds, are negotiating with a foe that seems unlikely to relent.

I, however, view this continuous state of affairs as something similar to a goose laying golden eggs. Look at the amount of work being generated for lawyers! And the sillier the work is, the better we will get at contending and finding some tiny loophole in the opposition’s arguments because at this point in time, the government is behaving like the big bully of the playground who keeps finding different reasons to pick on the little kids. So to the burgeoning legal talent in the country-don’t worry, there’s never going to be a dearth of jobs in the corporate world, at least not as long as our government keeps indulging in nit-picking and imposing badly-framed regulations. Jai ho!

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