After Judge Hansen delivered his judgement, most Indians were feeling along the same lines-“Justice Delayed, But Justice Delivered”. But, the Indian cricket team’s gracious hosts (pun intended), the “over-zealous” Aussies, were left complaining with disgust. Unfortunately, the proper proceedings for addressing both the parties’ grievances were initiated so late that it became more a case of “Justice Delayed” than “Justice Delivered”, making the entire thing look like a compromise.
It is not that hard to envision the scenario, if the same judgement had been delivered by South African Mike Proctor immediately after the whole Bhajji-Symonds spat. Symonds along with his compatriots Hayden and Clarke, while being very clear that they heard the word “monkey”, fail to recall anything else from the verbal exchange. Tendulkar, on the other hand, is equally adamant that he was well within the audible range and heard no reference to the word, whatsoever. Taking this into consideration alone, Harbhajan should have been proclaimed non-guilty, if only on the count of not having sufficient evidence and not (please note) due to his innocence.
Mr Proctor, while championing the cause of anti-racism and proclaiming him guilty, very conveniently chose to bypass the procedure of collecting other evidence against Bhajji, given the serious nature of the allegation against him. Another glaring omission was the non- investigation by Proctor into the circumstances which provoked the alleged verbal abuse! Symonds provoked Bhajji, in Mr. Hansen’s words, with “an unprovoked, unnecessary and incentive laden attack” all because of his opinion that a cricket pitch is no place for exchanging friendly acknowledgements. This is what Bhajji claims he did when he patted Lee, the incident which precipitated the spat. This whole fiasco should open the eyes of the ICC to the need for employing the services of qualified personnel rather than relying on former cricketers to deliver fair verdicts. The entire episode, other than bringing to fore yet again the need for enforcing cricketing etiquettes, also brought out the need for an urgent reform in modern society-“Speedy Justice”. Mr John Hansen, while delivering a remarkable verdict which clearly reflects his indulgence in judicial common sense, has still not achieved the principle objective of this investigation which is reprimanding abusive players and preventing further similar incidents.
Harbhajan celebrated his “moral victory”, after having gotten away with an insignificant monetary fine. This judgement has not, in any way, given him any compelling reason to restrain from further abusive spats. Andrew Symonds, on the other hand, is very conveniently hiding under the cloak of being the victim of “racial” abuse and will continue to indulge in his disgraceful behaviour. Far from realizing that his reason’s for having a go at Bhajji do not have an iota of rationalism, but are self serving, he is actually conveying his disappointment with the verdict. By delaying the hearing against Harbhajan, the ICC ensured that the focus shifted elsewhere, rather than the issue at hand. Clearly, Justice delayed is justice denied.
Rishabh Agnihotri[Image Courtesy: content-www.cricinfo.com/…/gallery/315809.html ]