Willing suspension of disbelief

| Updated: February 04, 2022 21:26:54

Willing suspension of disbelief

The hand of the law may be long; it is also frustratingly slow in action. Voluminous books of precedent, interpretation of legalese and stifling procedural processes contribute towards unbelievable delays before justice is arrived at. Any common observation on corruption in courts usually results in contempt proceedings being handed out. That is till someone like the Chief Justice comments that wrongdoing anywhere in the legal process will be cracked down upon. There should, ideally be more to follow. Written down processes that differ from country to country may or may not allow for penetrative investigation into assets and liabilities of those that are entrusted with handing out the law. Limitations are what come in the way thereby, preventing legal action internationally or nationally.

Global treaties lose bite because they aren't legally binding, restricted by the sovereignty of nations over internationalism. That murkier aspects of business and trade treaties survive scrutiny can be put down to some form of 'benefit' for peoples that any national law will allow for. If that sounds a contradiction, it is. Depending which side of the divide one is positioned definitions of human rights and other similar covenants differ glaringly. The right to information is tempered by 'national security'. Rights themselves are tempered by the 'greater good'. In close tandem are the popular terms 'democracy, rule of law, right to expression, freedom of thought' and so on. Nothing is off the table when it comes to governing countries; nor are the crass contradictions. Matters are further confounded by different laws that exist in countries where federal and regional governance is in vogue. Add to that conventions, traditions and common laws and the result is swill that even venerable pigs will shy away from.

Theone-eyed decisions that cause mayhem, destroy civilisations and end with teary-eyed apologiesare grudgingly conceded on shreds of dubious evidence. When there are no apologies, they are allowed to be watered down over time. So much was made and expected of the sterling work by investigative journalists from forty countries in exposing first the Panama and then Pandora papers. Millions of leaked documents left politicians, rulers and businessmen out to dry over stashes of wealth ticked away in tax havens. After the initial outrage the Panama papers scandal was essentially papered over. Feeble and tongue in cheek responses supported the investigation outcome, that of no accusations of illegal activity. After all, the rich and powerful are within their rights to decide where they choose to invest or hoard their wealth.

The Pandora papers were different. Too many names of key international figures from well-off  and not so countries emerged. This time around even muted responses were not forthcoming as had been expected. From the developing world Pakistan and India have begun quiet investigations by committees. India had begun the exercise of sniffing out laundered wealth by asking Swiss Banks to cough up their secrets. Long known as a haven of sorts, the Swiss agreed to reveal details on specific case by case basis. The new sleuthing has not yet, as far as could be known, triggered action by Bangladesh, troubled as it is by mammoth capital flight. On the contrary, it has been the courts that have asked for lists and details of defaulters. That most agencies have failed to come up with the figures isn't surprising. Two individuals accused of abetting capital flight by P K Halder of Peoples Leasing have not been arrested or questioned. Another has been successful in having his ban on leaving the country overturned simply because no accusations have been officially made.

Individual countries have cited or ducked under their respective laws. The United Kingdom (UK) glossed over the investments of a royal organisation's funds. Malawi has just named a new cabinet sans top members of the ruling party because of accusations of corruption against them. That is in spite of no charges being framed.

On a micro dimension allegations with proof should lead to in-country inquiries. Such noble designs have been aborted as the fine-line between right and wrong fades. It has taken years of focused probing to reveal the Panama and Pandora papers, that too by an unsworn group of journalists that rise above temptation. The suggestion is that press freedoms are continuously being eroded. As with most other aspects in society that too, needs to be fixed.


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