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Millennium Post

Loot and run

Loot and run

According to the World Bank, an estimated 276 million Indians (23.6 per cent of our population) continues to be below the poverty line. In this same India, diamond merchant Nirav Modi was able to comfortably flee the country after robbing the banking system of a staggering Rs 11,300 crore; the 'king of good times' Vijay Mallya, too, conned the system of Rs 9,000 crore while continuing his lavish lifestyle overseas. Both Mallya and Modi, along with other grand fraudsters – including Lalit Modi – have found quiet refuge in the UK. Though the British way has never been one with proclivity to fraudulence, the UK has always posited its clear stance as a humanitarian nation. Despite the several severe directives of the colonial era, Britain today isn't renowned for torture or humanitarian peril. Also, being a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, the UK extends its protection to individuals who are likely to face prosecution back home. While the UK's stance isn't exceptional, what adds leverage to its position is the horrific condition of prisons and, in fact, the entire justice system in India. On one hand, there is little chance that either of the Modis or Mallya will encounter any backlash for their illicit activities back home, given their lavish aura of ruthless power; on the other hand, the Indian prison system, in the global eye, isn't one acclaimed for upholding ideals of justice. Either there is injustice in selective punishment or there is injustice as prisoners endure extreme torture, irrespective of the intensity of their crime. When Mallya pressed against his extradition clause, he had poignantly hit the nail on the head by citing the instance of 'Biscuit King' Rajan Pillai who died in custody due to internal bleeding in his liver. The Justice Leila Seth Commission, constituted thereafter, had stated clearly that Pillai "met his end in the face of apathy and negligence." This clause of prisons being unsafe space for the imprisoned is ideologically viable in countries such as the UK to halt an extradition treaty. India has long battled with its inefficient judiciary and corrupt prison custody. The police administration has forever been blamed of corruption and underhand exchanges, prisons are unkept grounds breeding infection and violence – causing far more harm to the accused than providing scope for reform as justice rarely sees its rightful end. For now, though, only Nirav Modi's presence has been ascertained in the UK, whether he has applied for political asylum is still uncertain. Whatever be the future, India must press hard to strengthen its own judicial bearing and custodial balance if it hopes to met out justice to the thousands of citizens sitting at home who are watching their taxes being washed down to clear the filth left by entitled crooks who sit in luxurious estates rarely batting an eyelid to uplift their nation where 276 million individuals continue to earn less than $1.25 per day.

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