Amid lobbying from some of corporate leaders in favour of Keshub Mahindra, one of the heavyweight industrialists of the country, the CBI and the Bhopal Bar Association has opposed the continuation of bail for him and six others convicted in the Bhopal gas tragedy. Recently, a trial court of Bhopal sentenced two years’ imprisonment and a trivial fine of Rs 1 lakh to seven Union Carbide executives, including Mahindra, the then non-executive chairman. All of these seven convicts are on bail, which is going to expire on July 7. The seven have challenged the decision of trial court and asked for bail. In a couple of days, the picture regarding their bail would be clear.
However, the matter of severe concern is the lobbying in favour of Mahindra. He was working on the board of Union Carbide as an independent director. Some corporate leaders like Deepak Parekh, Chairman of HDFC, are batting openly for Mahindra. These leaders are saying if any independent director like Mahindra will be held responsible for the corporate negligence, then it will be very difficult for companies to find independent directors for board. Isn’t it a childish argument by these so called icons of corporate world?
If any corporate leaders should not be held responsible for the catastrophe like Bhopal, then why industrialists put blames on political leadership for the failure of the system. All of those, who are working to save Mahindra, know well that power and post comes with responsibility. Independent directors love to enjoy the power and glory of the company and when it comes to responsibility, they start shifting it to others. We all are aware as to what happened in the case of Satyam Computers.
If someone is responsible and investing agencies find him guilty then he/she must be punished forgetting his corporate and social stature. Otherwise, there will be no meaning of legal provisions. Mahindra case should not be treated differently. Same treatment should be given for any breach of law to a common man and a powerful person like Mahindra. Independent directors are expected to act like trustees and they are not expected to follow every direction of the promoter. These directors should act as the representatives of the shareholders of the company. But, they start dancing on the tune of the promoter and when it comes to responsibility, they start finding ways to escape.
Not a single political party is taking a clear stand on Mahindra’s issue. All political parties are saying that the culprit of Bhopal gas tragedy must be punished but they are silent on the punishment of Mahindra. It’s not new that a nexus of politicians and industrialists exists in country. Keeping the approach of both the sides in the case of Mahindra, it can be easily said that this nexus is working hard in favour of him. Government is also planning to amend The Companies Act, to make independent directors least responsible for the catastrophies like Bhopal. Once this plan goes into expected direction, all the cases related to the responsibilities of independent directors will get buried.