Mr Mohit Suri is Managing Partner of the International law firm MLegal and heads its global practice. Rated by his peers as among the best lawyers in Asia, he is President of the Indian Immigration Lawyers Association and a standing counsel for the Union Government in the Supreme Court of India. He is a member of Supreme Court Bar Association, the Delhi High Court Bar Association and the Delhi Bar Association.
In the international arena, he is member of international bar association, President of International Mobility Lawyers Association and of the Intellectual Property Jurists Association.
Outside his legal career, Mohit Suri is a Senior Joint Vice-President and Chairman of Legal and IT at the Roshanara Club, founded in 1922 and considered the birthplace of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). A committed sports enthusiast, he has won medals in state, national and international championships for power lifting. In September 2017, he will be representing India in the Commonwealth Power Lifting and Bench Press Championships, to be held in South Africa.
In an exclusive interaction with The Policy Times, Mohit Suri, Managing Partner of the International law firm MLegal talks about current dynamics of Mergers & Acquisitions in India, about the Vodafone India-Idea Cellular merger, GST, black money stashed abroad, IPR and his passion- sports especially powerlifting.
Q. Over 71 mergers and acquisitions took place during January-June 2017. M& A in startups is only going to rise where MNCs will acquire some of the best startups. Flipkart acquired 11 companies. What are the challenges and opportunities you see here?
MS: Most Mergers & Acquisitions are being funded by the investors who do not wish to lose their chance of making it big on the India story. The Indian economy is undergoing rapid changes and so are the rules. Though these changes are good for the long run but pose serious challenges in the short run. A liquor major lost its entire investment in Bihar because of the prohibition. GST would reduce the edge held by the e-retailers. But I see further consolidation in most sectors and India would mimic the structure in most developed nations and thus the deals will continue.
Q. CCI has approved the Vodafone India-Idea Cellular merger deal. How do you read this from legal point of view? What role should CCI play in large and small M&As?
MS: I feel that the decision to allow the merger is the right one as it is not likely to create any monopoly or damage the interest of the consumers. The telecom sector has been bleeding post the entry of Reliance and this merger will actually help the new entity to compete and survive. CCI should look closely at the interest of the consumers as big companies can more often than not manipulate the prices of goods and services.
Q. GST has been one of the biggest reforms in India. What is the reaction of business? What are the flip sides that Government should have considered for the benefit of business?
MS: GST is a big reform that will surely assist the Government and the big companies. Most large corporates have received the new regime with great enthusiasm. The centre and states alike will see a huge spike in tax collections once the system is fully operational.
The only drawback that I see with the system is that it would hit the unorganised and small businesses because of the difficulty in compliances and lack of resources. I do not sympathise with tax cheats but there will be job losses in the short run as many of such small unorganised business would become unviable.
The government should have seen the human cost as the economic system will change leading to unemployment of unforeseen proportions.
Q. In the context of anti-money laundering and FEMA, largest political parties denied foreign funding to come under RTI scanner. Where India is legally positioned to bring back black money? Where are we going wrong?
MS: I am 100% confident that the money stashed abroad will be brought back or come back on its own. The results will start showing from 2018-2019.
The Common Reporting Standard (the “CRS”) was developed in response to the request of the G20 to fight against tax evasion and call on jurisdictions and their financial institutions to automatically exchange information among them on an annual basis. CRS was finally approved by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Council on 15 July 2014 and came into force on January 1, 2017 among most of those jurisdictions which decided to implement it. India is one of the countries that have implemented the same in the first phase. The international sharing of information and computer assisted analysis of the same would finally see an end to tax evasion. The NRI’s who hold properties and accounts in India and do not pay taxes in both India and their home country will start getting notices from the tax authorities soon.
Q. IPR is a big challenge for business. What are the policy measures to be taken in India to make India an investment-friendly nation and protect innovation?
MS: Despite major changes we are still far away from internationally acceptable timelines with respect to implementing and enforcing the IPR. The redressal process is slow as the courts and the IPR offices are under staffed and take a lot of time in responding to the issues.
Q. With rise in protectionist measures and anti-immigration sentiments, Indian IT sector is hit hard in the US. WTO and UN clauses of free and fair trade and workforce movement are majorly affected. India is not positioned strongly to fight cases in international courts. What and where are we lacking? What should government focus now?
MS: We are increasingly living in a word governed by right wing nationalists. We will see an increase in protectionist measures. In a democracy immigration has become a major election issue in most developed countries and we will continue to see such tightening in most developed countries, whether it is USA or Singapore.
Singapore which has a pact with India has been sitting on applications without explicitly refusing the same. India as an international player is still very young and lacks the will to offend major partners like the USA. In light of this we will need to increase the opportunities in our own country if we have to continue to grow.
Q Why is India lagging behind in sports? What are the immediate policy priorities? Is the current government taking any different measures in sports?
MS: India is a very large nation with the second largest population in the world. Unfortunately our governments have not developed the infrastructure for introducing sports to common people. You would be surprised that even in Delhi most children would not even know the names of even 10% of Olympic medal sports leave alone training and winning medals.
In today’s world to be world beaters we need to start training at a very young age. Most children don’t have access to even playgrounds leave alone equipment.
Most sports stars in India and their parents put in efforts beyond the imagination of most people to reach where they are. We need to value human beings and our children if we want to be world leaders and this is where we are lacking.
Q. Suspense is your passion for powerlifting. How are you managing time and what are your plans ahead?
MS: I have always loved fitness. I believe to achieve anything you want you have to be fit. This quest for fitness kept me regular at the gym. This is where my coach introduced me to the beautiful sport of powerlifting.
Time management is a tough job but I feel that one has to go an extra mile if you wish to achieve something. My day starts at 5.30 AM in the morning and ends at 11.30 PM. I try and fit everything in this time.
Q. In September 2017, you will be representing India in the Commonwealth Power Lifting and Bench Press Championships in South Africa. Can we expect a medal?
MS: Sure. I have always planned and worked hard for a win. I believe that you will see medals for India in South Africa.