On a day when India Inc reacted cautiously to CBI's move to name Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman, AV Birla group, as a co-accused in the coal block allocation scam, Birla found strong support from Deepak Parekh, chairman, HDFC.

Describing Birla as "clean as a whistle", and one who has always walked the straight line, he said the move was "shameful". "I can give you examples of dozens of people who have defrauded investors, shareholders and banks and continue to walk free. You are scaring business out of the country, this is why industries are looking outside," Parekh said.

"Is the government aware of what is happening at the ground level and the way regulatory bodies are behaving? Whether it is the CBI or the EOW, there are far bigger fish in the water," he said.

A majority of other top businessmen and corporate honchos that TOI spoke to, however, declined to go on record describing the matter as "sensitive", while industry body CII was measured in its comments. Most declined comment because CBI, the top central investigating agency, was involved in the case and it was under the direct supervision of the country's top court. One of them said that a person should not be treated as a criminal until proven to be one, although the same rarely happens. "In India, we still have high levels of corporate governance, barring a few isolated cases such as Satyam Computers. Punishment should be very strict and timely if someone is found guilty," said Chandrajit Banerjee, director general, CII. However, Banerjee added that it was not a good idea "to look at people as suspects, to begin with".

V N Dhoot, chairman, Videocon Group, said that the Supreme Court has already clarified that nobody was above law, however big he or she may be. "Since then, investigating authorities are doing their job without fear and force. (But) those who are innocent need not bother," Dhoot said. In the last few years, several top corporates have been dragged into a number of high profile cases like 2G telecom spectrum allocation scam and coal block allocation scam.

Keywords: CBI, Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman, AV Birla group, Deepak Parekh, chairman, HDFC,investors, shareholders , banks , business , industries , EOW,corporate governance,Computers, Videocon Group, 2G telecom spectrum , coal block,Business news, scam.