Sunday, 16 April 2017

The Fraud Friends - Book Review

Though many of us would be aware of this, I feel a responsibility to iterate the fact that the courtroom melodrama showcased in movies is just not real. If you want a realistic and holistic view on what goes in the entire course of legal proceedings then “The Fraud Friends” by Dhruva Malhotra would be an eye opener.

The story is in a first person narrative and presents the actual course of events in a cheque default case. Though the author has changed the names of the characters but the beauty of the story is not undermined because of any non-factual errors. Hence, the book is not exactly a fiction. It not only gives the case details but also some honest suggestions and remedies at least in theory to common problems faced in the judicial system.

The book is broadly divided into two parts - actual story and suggestions on how to adopt technology and streamlined processes to remove the barrier that render the system slow. The story is of a certain person Ajay who in good-faith lends money to his friend and neighbour Tejass only to find out that Tejass is an age old defaulter and if I may term a criminal with a number of cheque default cases. Tejass gives a post-dated cheque to Ajay as an indicator of his genuinity. Michael Corleone says in The Godfather - “Friends and money - oil and water.” Ajay learns this the hard way. Tejass’ cheque bounces. Ajay gives a lot of chances to Tejass to reconcile things, but like I already mentioned, Tejass was a seasoned criminal at cheque fraud. This pushes Ajay to the point when he knocks the door of the judicial system.

The story is fast paced. I had already mentioned that this book gives you a proper interpretation of how the judicial system works. Before reading this book I didn’t know that -

  • A courtroom is identified by the name of the judge conducting it.
  • When do you send a notice and what are the actions that you need to follow this up with?
  • What are the points that you need to pay attention to when hiring a lawyer?
  • What is the difference between a bailable warrant and non-bailable warrant?
  • When does a judge issue a bailable warrant and when a non-bailable one?
  • That a person against whom a non-bailable warrant has been issued can approach the court and get the same cancelled against a fees.
  • A judge is appointed for mediation if both parties agree to the same.
  • How a convicted person can go back to a higher bench to get his case re-analyzed? I know that we all know this can be done, but what are the intricate details pertaining to the same?

The author repeats the fact that he is not against the working of the judicial system, but there is definitely a scope of improvement. He doesn’t stop at that and gives actual statistics that would help one in understanding the bottlenecks that a person wound up in the system faces. Justice delayed is justice denied - it’s said. But, here in this story, justice though delayed was served and the protagonist’s efforts do not go in vain. What makes it interesting is the journey and that an apparently open and shut case can go on till what length?

This is the first book by the author, but nevertheless I was impressed by the crisp content. The language may not be that polished, but this was a no nonsense book. While I have read a lot of John Grisham’s novels which are fiction of course, I have not read many books pertaining to a case in the Indian judicial system and this was my first. The statistics and remedies (which the author mentions are theoretical) given to counter the problems in the judicial system, may be debatable by people in the profession, but it would be applaudable if the remedies are at least looked through. I am not saying that this is the best book on law and order, but I would recommend this as a wonderful read which in a small word count presents the intricacies in our legal system.

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