A lynch-mob mentality has always come in handy for men in power in this country

Quite the most predictable thing about the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is its unabashedly utter predictability.

Perhaps we, as a people, like this trait. It gives us some sense of groundedness, a sense of certainty in a completely uncertain world, a comforting sense of black and white in a mostly grey life and universe. Amidst all the soul-shattering unpredictable stuff that we are forced to go through in our daily grind, this sort of thing comes as a balm.

See, they wasted no time; they did not form committee after committee after committee and let the issue drag on till S. Sreesanth was a grandfather reading from Robinson Crusoe to put his grandchildren to sleep.

In our day and age, when everybody is connected and everybody wants to know everything about everything — irrespective of value judgments as to whether these things matter to them or not — speed matters. The slothful old way of our justice system will not do. Justice has to be done, and must be seen and felt to be done in double quick time.

Who is the black sheep? From Homer down to Hamlet and Hume, members of our species have spent sleepless nights trying to figure this out from an ethical, moral and intellectual perspective. But the Homers, Hamlets and Humes had to wait for decades upon decades, even centuries, to find some sort of recognition that was the rightful reward for their fretful nights.

But quick-fix operators like the Indian cricket board have long since found the easy way out. When pushed to a corner — out of which you might have thought they have no way out — they simply look around and find another corner where a bunch of folks appear to be rather more uncomfortable than they themselves are.

The bosses of BCCI have always been good at deflection. They have turned it into such a fine art-form that the late Ranjitsinhji, had these things been played out on a cricket field, would have doffed his hat to them.

“Hey, look at those guys. They are the black sheep. We just failed to spot them in time. But we are squeaky clean ourselves.”

That is not only a clever line of defence but something that ambulance chasing lawyers have, over the years, turned into a lucrative profession.

Read the BCCI’s ludicrous statement issued by its secretary Sanjay Patel: “After considering the evidence on record and hearing each of the players in person, the disciplinary committee has passed its order.”

Of course, there was the customary patting-of-backs ceremony. “I welcome the decision. It will act as exemplary punishment,” BCCI interim president Jagmohan Dalmiya was quoted as saying.

All this in a nation where the first player to be ‘banned for life’ by the BCCI is now a Member of Parliament and another banned for five years is a regular ‘superstar’ TV presenter during matches.

The crux of the matter is Sreesanth and Ankeet Chavan of Rajasthan Royals have been banned ‘for life’ after a report turned in by the Board’s anti-corruption chief Ravi Sawani, who reportedly spent valuable time surviving in IPL-VI’s slime and slush.

It is hard to say how much Mr. Sawani got out of the State investigating authorities in Mumbai and New Delhi.

But the whole exercise was staged merely to point a finger at THEM — those corrupt, wayward young men — as opposed to US — the rightful owners of the moral high ground.

Then again, to say the least, the timing of the report is poor. The nation’s judicial system is still in the process of ascertaining the facts of the case. Twice, not once, the BCCI’s probe panel was found inadequate by the honourable members of the judiciary.

If the formation of the original committee — from which an upstanding gentleman resigned in protest — was a sham, then the report on which the ban is sought to be enforced is an even bigger sham.

A lynch-mob mentality has always come in handy for men in power in this country — no matter whether it is politics or sport or whatever.

Law may be blind, but in the BCCI’s case scapegoating is done with great relish and with eyes wide open.

There is absolutely no attempt here to build up a case for Sreesanth & Co. But the law should take its own course. The Board believes it is a private body — although any organisation that selects a national team that is called Team India and whose followers wave the tricolour with greater vigour than the valiant men who recaptured the Kargil Heights for our nation does not deserve to be deemed as a private body — and it cannot pronounce judgments on critically important ethical issues when cases are pending in courts of law.

After all, the bits and pieces of information that Sawani may have got out of the Delhi or Mumbai police would not have equipped him to come up with the judgment that he did.

Ultimately, we would be doing ourselves, and the sport we love with such great passion, a great disservice if we were to conclude that the BCCI has brought a sort of closure to the sad IPL-VI saga. It has not; and it never will.

Only India’s judicial system, which has done commendable service to the common man’s cause in recent times, can take on that role. And it has already done that. Corruption in cricket may not be our courts’ No. 1 priority. It would be a travesty of justice if it were.

In time, we will know what the courts have to say on the issue. What we require now is patience. If you are in the vicinity of Sreesanth’s house and you have half made up your mind to pick up a stone, hold on.

Take a deep breath and say that you still have faith in the Indian judicial system.


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