At the peak of the Enron & Worldcom scams there used to be joke going around on the varied opinions of “Professional firm of Accountants” to a question on what 2+2 would be. I was initially tempted to use the same one but better sense prevailed on me lest my professional fraternity haul me up for bringing disrepute to them. I am, therefore, constrained to use a milder one!
The story goes as follows: (Also giving the link lest I am accused of plagiarism too! Using too as I am also concerned that that should not be accused of violating section 66A of the Income Technology Act! http://forum.accafriends.com/accounting-jokes/2-2-t77.html)
There once was a business owner who was interviewing people for a division manager position. He decided to select the individual that could answer the question “how much is 2+2?”
The engineer pulled out his slide rule and shuffled it back and forth, and finally announced, “It lies between 3.98 and 4.02″.
The mathematician said, “In two hours I can demonstrate it equals 4 with the following short proof.”
The physicist declared, “It’s in the magnitude of 1×101.”
The logician paused for a long while and then said, “This problem is solvable.”
The social worker said, “I don’t know the answer, but I am glad that we discussed this important question.
The attorney stated, “In the case of Svenson vs. the State, 2+2 was declared to be 4.”
The trader asked, “Are you buying or selling?”
The accountant looked at the business owner, then got out of his chair, went to see if anyone was listening at the door and pulled the drapes. Then he returned to the business owner, leaned across the desk and said in a low voice, “What would you like it to be?”
Coming back to the context of this post – There were press reports in papers about the new law minister having overturned the earlier decision that the famous Vodafone tax liability was not capable of being compromised for a settlement! What should also be raising eyebrows is the timing of the change of decision coming a few hours immediately after the new minister took over! The justification for the change, as reported in the press, reads as “his new position was based on Finance Minister’s clarification at the meeting with the Revenue Secretary and the Chairperson of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) that the conciliation proposal would not bypass or alter the tax liability under the Income Tax Act.” The report does not mention about the date on which the meeting was held! (http://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/vodafone-offer-law-ministry-makes-uturn/article4715088.ece). If one thought that this was an aberration of convenience then they should be reading this one too albeit in two different avatars – One as Solicitor General and another as Advocate General. (http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-05-12/india/39202852_1_second-opinion-icmr-g-e-vahanvati)
Changing opinions is not something that we should be concerned about but at the same time doing it at a time when the nation is already embroiled in one controversy or the other, most of which having legal implications (this is best avoided). The Attorney General has been vested with critical responsibilities under the Constitution of India and it is imperative that due care and diligence is exercised when taking such controversial positions. The Vodafone case has already been a controversial one for being the trigger for the retrospective amendment to the Income Tax Act to negate a Supreme Court decision. Viewed against that backdrop this was something that could have been avoided especially when there is an intense debate on the functioning of Constitutional bodies especially the interference of political executive!
The political executive also needs to be careful with influencing or accepting such changes depending needs of political exigencies. There is no point making claims of having being “misled” at a later stage.
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