By Dr. Rahul Kumar
According to the 213th Law Commission Report, there are more than4 Million bounced cheque cases pending in various courts in India and new bounced cheque cases are piling up every day. It is predicted that such cases will add to the kitty in the pandemic of Coronavirus.
Confederation of All India Traders(CAIT) took up this matter with the Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman before the lockdown in India due to the pandemic of Coronavirus. She assured the representatives of the association for a speedy resolution of the problem but sorry to say the Finance Minister and his colleagues seem to be sleeping over this important issue.
The number of bounced cheque cases in India is increasing day by day, the time period for seeking recovery of money is also increasing. For instance, in the capital of India- Delhi, an aggrieved party has to wait for more than one and half years to recover the money in the court that too when an aggrieved party has proper documents such as a registered agreement between both the conflicting parties, a copy of the bounced cheque, etc. The manufacturers and traders in India are facing myriad problems in doing business due to bounced cheque cases.
Not only the domestic manufacturers and traders are suffering due to pliant laws. but also the international investor/ stakeholders are avoiding India as a safe country to invest. In the pandemic of Coronavirus, India needs foreign investment but foreign companies are deliberately avoiding India. The Narendra Modi government in New Delhi is unable to instill confidence in foreign investors. News of financial frauds committed by Indians spread like a wildfire in foreign countries affecting the investment prospects.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is no doubt a visionary but he is unable to see how the businesses in India are collapsing due to the corrupt, sluggish judicial system. He proudly announced “Make in India” but he never tried to look at problems that are being faced by the Indian manufacturers & traders in India. The Manufacturers and Traders who are fighting court cases due to bounced cheque have to harness their precious times in the courts to recover their money as a result their businesses suffer. To recover their hard-earned money they have to hire an expensive lawyer and run between court and police. They face mental harassment when an unscrupulous lawyers keep on taking the dates from the judge on this or that pretext in favor of the drawer. They face more tribulations when the drawer of the cheque disappears. In that case, the local police do not bother to locate him or her despite court orders.
In the last few years, the trust in the judicial system has been eroded particularly among the manufacturers and traders, and generally among the populace in India. It is, therefore, most of the entrepreneurs do not wish to start a new business. They prefer to do a job and live a life without court hassles.
The litany is that committing financial fraud and cheating has become a culture in India. This culture of cheating is lowering the image of India in the international community. Indians having learned modus operandi are now committing the same bounced cheque frauds in other countries. Recently, “a young businessman – Yogesh Ashok Yariava from Mumbai purchased several items in the pandemic of Coronavirus from Dubai businessman and issued various bank cheques to the amount of $1.6 million to the buyers and later those cheques when presented in the bank by the sellers, bounced. He allegedly duped nearly 50 businessmen in the UAE”(Gulf News). Yariava reached India in a repatriation fight and underwent for 14 days in Quarantine, Hyderabad. Despite repeated emails by the Consulate General of India (CGI) in Dubai, to their counterpart in India, Yariava fled from Hyderabad after completing 14 days in Quarantine. Indian police have no clue about his whereabouts now. Neither the police have time to locate him and send back to the UAE.
The Narendra Modi government and his trusted team have learned nothing from the developed countries. For example, in the USA, the government can block Social Security Number (SSN) if someone dares to indulge in dirty business tricks like bounced cheque or bank fraud. He or she or any of their kid cannot run any business or avail any loan from any bank in the USA. Social Security Number card has special security features and nobody can make a fake or a duplicate card. On the contrary, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) spent more than Rs.9,000 crore (approx. 1.2 Billion) over the last eight years towards issuing Aadhar numbers. Aadhar number is just an identification number. Many people in India have fake Aadhar Card and there is no system developed by the Narendra Modi government to prevent this. However, the government of India has linked Aadhar number to a bank account yet it does not serve any purpose to stop financial frauds.
Digital India flagship Programme launched by the Narendra Modi government has only safeguarded the wealth of the Indian businessmen. Digital India could not stop corruption. According to the India Corruption survey of 2019, “51percent citizens paid a bribe in the last 12 months; property registration, police, municipality, and transport top department where bribes are demanded”. It shows that the Narendra Modi government is launching simply implementing new ideas but do not bother what happens thereafter.
In a recent letter addressed to the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote, “In the year 2014, the people voted for a big change; you voted to change the policy and system (niti and reeti). It is unfortunate that demonetization and GST implementation have both devastated the manufacturing units. Policy and system both have crashed. The way the Narendra Modi government has been demolishing & demonizing the Indian bureaucrats tell fascinating stories.
Since 2014, the Minister/official from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to the Ministry of Finance, in advance, is not aware of Modi`s mind. They remain largely confused about domestic as well international policy until Mr. Modi comes, all of sudden, with a utopian idea & push his idea and force them to follow sheepishly without a chance to raise a question. Most of the bureaucrats in India bear slavish mentality as a result they have lost their mental ability to make India a self-reliant country.
The same case is with bureaucrats Mr. Amitabh Kant CEO & Mr. Rajiv Kumar, Vice-Chairman of NITI AAYOG- old, visionless, dignified clerks, and subservient. At the beginning of 2019, Mr. Amitabh Kant used to deliver a lecture to a handful elite audience in five-star hotels and arm scholars of Indian Think Tanks – FICCI, PHD Chamber, ASSOCHAM, CII, and Brooking India that the Narendra Modi government has taken a bold step to make a $5 trillion Indian economy. Mr. Kant is fond of innovation but he is unable to tell how much funds the Narendra Modi government has in the kitty to facilitate innovation in India. They knew that the Narendra Modi government is bankrupt. The banking system in India has wrecked by wilful defaulters. Non-performing Assets (NPAs) are increasing in the system but they do not stop singing eulogy in praise of the Narendra Modi government. India needs bold bureaucrats who can dare to question a Minister if they find the policy decision or implementation is not in favor of the country at large.
Similarly, 99.9 percent of manufacturers and traders in India do not know what time the Narendra Modi government would bring a change in the industrial policy and labour laws and how this change would impact their businesses in the future. In the event of limited capital to invest, bounced cheque cases in India have wrecked the livelihood of the owners of small and medium scale enterprises.
Most of the Indian scholars sarcastically talk about India and China has the same per capita GDP in 1997, today China 5 times more than India. There is a reason behind it. China has a strong legal system so have developed countries in the West. If Indian courts are flooded with more than 4 Million bounced cheque cases it indicates that there is something wrong in the judicial system that needs urgent correction.
The Narendra Modi government lacks a political will in reforming the judicial system. Today, the Narendra Modi government and his trusted feel proud in enumerating bills as their accomplishments and bold steps( CAA, Triple Talaq, Revocation of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir & 35A in Ladakh))in the Parliament despite opposition and public protests. All these bills have vertically and horizontally divided Indian society. These amendments have unleashed a new war in the country. There is bloodshed, anarchy in Jammu &Kashmir. Had the Narendra Modi government exercised wisdom these controversial and divisive bills could have been postponed. Had the Narendra Modi government paid attention to the crumbling judicial system there would have been no bounced cheque case in India. Had the Narendra Modi government not played a politics of Hindu-Muslim in India, Indian jails would have not been clogged.
India cannot be a self-reliant country unless or until the Narendra Modi government reform the judicial system that is on the verge of collapse. The Narendra Modi government must pause for sometimes and it should harness time & energy on issues like the bounced cheque to inculcate confidence in the business community. Hence, as a citizen of this beloved country, I appeal to the Narendra Modi government not to waste precious remaining four years and rise from a deep slumber to save the Indian business community. The Narendra Modi government has to crush the culture of cheating, financial fraud to achieve the goal of making India a Self-Reliant country.
Dr. Rahul Kumar is an independent researcher and senior media columnist. His research & writing interest extends to macro social, economic, political & international affairs. The views expressed by the author in this article are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the paper.