Law will take its own course: Govt on Walmart issue
"If at all any investigation does conclusively establish that there has been a violation of the Indian laws, law will take its own course," Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari told Karan Thapar's Devil's Advocate on CNN-IBN.
He was responding to a question on the Enforcement Directorate probing alleged violation of investment rules by Walmart in India and charges that Walmart invested in India even before the Government took a policy decision on FDI in retail.
Tewari at the same time repeatedly cautioned against "innuendos and insinuations" till an inquiry is completed. He said Government has already announced a probe by a former judge into the allegations of Walmart spending money on lobbying to get entry into Indian market and that now "the inquiry commission should be allowed to come to its independent conclusion.
"I do not think it is proper to second guess the results of an inquiry. Let the inquiry play itself out. We would not put the cart before the horse," he said. Tewari also hit out at the BJP over the issue alleging that the principal opposition has "reversed criminal jurisprudence on its head".
"They make an allegation, then they reiterate it and they start believing it and then they ultimately expect the country to convict a person without a trial," Tewari said, adding "if all this process exonerates Walmart completely, who is going to compensate individuals, associations or companies for the damages done as a result".
The Union Minister also exuded optimism that it will be able to pass the crucial bills on banking, pension and insurance reforms passed in Parliament despite the existing political contradictions as "the real faultline in this country is communalism versus pluralism".
Tewari also dismissed questions on whether a recent judgement by the Supreme Court on cases against SP Mulayam Singh has helped the government unintentionally. "Those are parallel facts. Criminal investigations, judicial adjudications follow a particular track. Politics follows its own track and there is no convergence," he said.
The minister said that the government is hopeful, engaged and optimistic about the passage of the crucial bills on banking, pension and insurance and these are very important bills for the development of the country. On the issue of lobbying, Tewari at one point even said, albeit in his "individual capacity" that India should make a Lobbying Disclosures Act like the US, which makes it compulsory for political lobbyists to be registered and make periodic disclosures of amount spent.
"Time has come. We need to put in place a statutory architecture, which makes these declarations essentials, even legislators, MPs and people in the executive, if they have in the past or continue to represent a particular company or a group of company, that interest must be declared even before they participate in a debate," Tewari said. At the same time, he sought to make a difference between lobbying and illegal gratification.
"How can you be certain that lobbying automatically translates into illegal gratification? There is nothing to suggest either in jurisprudence or otherwise that the term lobbying is synonymous with illegal gratification. It could it equally couldn't be. Therefore, an inquiry will bring out the facts and Govt has agreed to inquiry," Tewari said.
He also stressed that when the government makes a policy, it does not facilitate only one company's coming in when repeatedly asked about the controversies surrounding Walmart. Tewari also accused BJP of "clutching on to straws" on the issue of FDI in multi-brand retail after "they lost the votes substantially in both Houses".