The Supreme Court of India is not very impressed with DMK MP Vasanthi Stanley, and has ordered that criminal proceedings be initiated against her for defaulting on loans from national banks which were taken based on forged documents. What seem to have ticked off the apex court however is the reasons she has given in defense of her innocence.
In response to a Special Leave Petition filed by the government in the case which had earlier been disposed by a high court, Vasanthi Stanley claimed that the loans, amounting to Rs. 61 lakh, were actually taken by her husband, and she had only co-signed the documents under his instructions, and the forgery came to her notice only after he died in 2009. She also sought leniency on grounds of being a woman and a widow, and she had faithfully given into her husband’s requests.
The apex court would have none of that. According to Times of India, the court said that being a faithful wife does not mean that a woman should be her husband's partner in crime, and that cannot give her the excuse to discharge herself from the case. “The assertion as regards the ignorance are a mere pretence and sans substance given the facts. Lack of awareness, knowledge or intent is neither to be considered nor accepted in economic offences. The submission assiduously presented on gender leaves us unimpressed. An offence under the criminal law is an offence and it does not depend on the gender of an accused,” the court said, according to ToI. The court reportedly also wondered “whether a former assistant commissioner of commercial tax can be allowed to advance a plea, obviously a remarkable one, that she had signed the documents either as a guarantor or as a co-applicant, showing deference to her late husband's desire”.
Vasanthi Stanley however dismisses the comments and observations by the court, and says she is justified in her defense.
“Tell me, if your spouse asks you to sign documents stating that he or she needed help with a loan, will you not sign it? I did not know if the documents were forged or not. He is not alive now. And even after that, I have paid my dues. I went to the bank managers and told them that I will pay whatever is in my strength, and agreed for a One Time Settlement, and the banks agreed. Now why is this being revived?” asks Vasanthi.
Vasanthi says that the high court had disposed the case off, and she had argued the case on the same lines. So why is this being taken up by the SC?
“One thing you have to note here is that the banks have not gone to SC with the SLP, it is the government which has filed it asking for criminal charges. And this government is against my party, so this is political vendetta,” she says.
She also says that the loans pertain to the period before her Parliament membership. Sources in the banking sector who were aware of the particular case said that the issue had propped even when her Rajya Sabha nomination was mounted, but the required no-objection certificates were given to her at that time.
Vasanthi was a co-borrower in two loans, and a guarantor in two others. All the loans are said to have been defaulted by her husband who she says took the loans for his business.