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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Sidhu’s Sentence After 30 Years

Delay in justice holds the country back by slowing down the speed of decision-making. It fails to check destabilizing and anti-social elements in their early stages. The spirit of democracy and civil rights takes a beating. And, it’s not good. It produces mediocre leadership who only knows how to misuse the official machinery without getting into legal trouble. It doesn’t have the vision to take the nation and society forward

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Navjot Singh Sidhu has been sent to the Patiala Central Jail to serve a year-long sentence in a case of road rage, registered in 1988. It took more than three decades for the Indian judicial system to convict and sentence a person whose felony was never in doubt; even the accused had accepted it all along. The argument that Sidhu had been making was that he didn’t intend to kill the person. The victim got killed by a mild blow of his fist that he never thought could kill someone. Road rage is a strange yet very common problem. A lot of people are using the right of way on roads and highways at high speed. What if something less than a fatal accident takes place? It will certainly enrage the road users and some of them might land a blow or two at the person who they think is simply too stupid to be on the road.

Notably, after Sidhu’s blow left the person dead in the road rage incident, Sidhu knew he would get a punishment for this someday. For 30 long years, he escaped the moment that caught up with him today. The intervening period has seen Sidhu in many different avatars – cricket commentator, humorist and politician. While he has been above average in all these domains, he failed to break mediocrity and achieve excellence. In politics, he changed parties as frequently as he would change his turbans. Congress used him to make up for the lack of speakers from one election to another. But nobody knew what he wanted to achieve in politics except that he wanted to become the chief minister of Punjab. Well, Sidhu has been a kind guy – full of warm humour and ready to hug his friends including Pakistan Army chief general Qamar Javed Bajwa. He has been an excellent cricketer and delighted us with some of those mighty sixes before they became the order of the day in T20 matches.

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But for the judiciary, taking 30 years to decide a case of road rage is something completely inexorable. Can the citizens get justice as a service rather than a privilege? Can we have private sector input to fix the loopholes and make the Indian judicial system more efficient? Twenty years ago, when this columnist began his career, the pendency of cases and delay injustice was the most nagging public issue. Because of delayed justice, criminal and corruption cases lingered on without a decision. Using the delay in delivering justice, criminals turned into politicians. And, politicians turned into scam operators. The ordinary people could not afford long and costly court cases. Activists and civil society members avoided being on the wrong side of the legal divide even when it was an absolute must to stop the nation from slipping into a mobocracy or a mafia-raj. Delay in justice holds the country back by slowing down the speed of decision-making. It fails to check destabilizing and anti-social elements in their early stages. The spirit of democracy and civil rights takes a beating. And, it’s not good. It produces mediocre leadership who only knows how to misuse the official machinery without getting into legal trouble. It doesn’t have the vision to take the nation and society forward.

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The Hills Times
The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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