Thursday 2 October 2014

Sarita Devi's behaviour

I have been repeatedly asked since yesterday to comment on the ' injustice ' to Sarita Devi in her boxing semi final against Jina Park of Korea, in which the latter was declared the winner.

Many people in India have become highly emotional on the issue, and have asked me to express my ' solidarity' with Sarita Devi.

For quite some time I have resisted the temptation to join the chorus to condemn the 'cheating' against Sarita Devi by the Judges. Almost all Indians are shouting and screaming against this ' rigging ' of the verdict in the match, and are expressing sympathy with Sarita Devi.

But long judicial training has made my mind impervious to such pressures, and I regret I cannot join in this emotionally high strung refrain. I, too, am a patriot, but that does not mean that I am entitled to become jingoistic and not rational. So let us consider the matter coolly.

Firstly, were any of the 3 ringside Judges who gave the verdict Koreans ? The answer is, no. The 3 Judges were (1) Ibrahim Mohammad of Tunisia, (2) Albino Foti of Italy, and (3) Mariusz Josef Gory of Poland. All 3 ruled in favour of Jina Park by identical 39-37 margins. So were all 3 Judges bribed ? I think it is absurd to say so.

Secondly, I saw the match carefully on Youtube. It was a well contested match, and though Sarita Devi certainly threw some good punches, I realize I am not a trained boxing Judge, and therefore cannot disagree with the Judges verdict with certainty.

Thirdly, even honest Judges can sometimes make mistakes. Lord Denning often said that the Judge has not been born who never made a mistake. So to attribute motives to the 3 Judges, who reached identical verdicts, is in my opinion not fair, and shows unsportsmanship spirit.

I totally disapprove of Sarita Devi's behaviour of putting her own medal on Jina Park's neck. This was most improper. Even if she felt that the verdict against her was not correct, she had no business to behave in this manner, or to throw tantrums.

 I know I am in a minority of one on this issue, and may be condemned by many of my fellow Indians for being so ' unpatriotic', but that does not matter to me. As long as my conscience is clear, I have never bothered about what the hoi polloi says


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  2. Justice Markhandya has rightly said his bit. We Indiabs are not rational people and tend to get carried away by emotion

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  4. Well said"judges aren't god", but sir don't you think rectification is needed.
    Why to respect such beguiler organisation,what she did signifies her respect for national flag and her overwhelm emotions.
    She played her best bout and was misjudged by those few worthless morons, and her mentors inspite of guiding and helping her saved there own ass from controversies.Incredible india!

  5. Dear Justice Katju,

    Before I express my opinion, let me state that I have the utmost respect for you as an eminent and distinguished judge, scholar, and authority on the law.

    And as such, you have made an impeccable case, from a legal point of view.

    Now, allow me to take a different point of view - that of the athlete.

    The athlete spends two years of her life totally dedicated to her sport. She even sacrifices her time with her husband and very young child in order to bring glory to the country.

    And what happens? She is unjustly declared the loser in an act of blatant match fixing.

    While we are not professional boxing judges, the following points must be noted:

    1. India's Devendro Laishram and Mongolia's Tugstsogt Nyambayar also suffered similar fates against South Korean opponents in matches they clearly dominated and should have won - which suggests that there has been a pattern wherein judges - albeit not South Korean - have unjustly favored the home team.

    2. Even the partisan Korean audience booed the verdict, and plainly expressed their disapproval.

    3. The athlete protested in a mature and dignified manner. She did not abuse/curse/manhandle the judges. She calmly took the medal, and put it around her opponent's neck - the Korean boxer who was awarded the match against her, and hugged her with a smile.

    Some may say that Sarita's actions amount to indiscipline. Is standing up to injustice indiscipline? Was the civil disobediance movement ill disciplined?

    The fact is that Sarita represents India, and the country was unjustly and blatantly robbed of a gold medal chance. In my opinion, Sarita conducted herself with great courage, maturity, and dignity. She stood up for herself, and the country. Even the callousness/indifference of the Indian officials (who refused to lodge a protest because of which she had to borrow $100 from a journalist to lodge an appeal) did not affect her.

    There is at least one precedent I can think of which is very similar to these events - the great Muhammad Ali once threw his Olympic Gold medal into the Ohio river in protest of racial discrimination.

    In the light of the above, with respect, Justice Katju, I request you to revisit the nuances of the events and if possible, review your verdict.

    Thank you.

  6. Dear Justice Katju,

    This is worth reading

    Warm regards.

  7. Dear Justice Katju,

    There's clear evidence that corruption and fixing are rife in boxing:

    As such, it is my opinion that Sarita behaved in a most honorable and courageous manner, and put her career, her reputation and her livelihood at risk in order to uphold the country's dignity and honor, and to expose and shame the AIBA.

    The entire country should be proud of her. We should put all our weight behind this courageous lady.

    Warm regards.

  8. I agree with the blogger's conclusions but not necessarily with the arguments.

    For me, her behaviour was undignified and got the country a bad name.

    It was fine for her to feel that she had won and to protest. It would have been dignified if she had accepted the verdict or use available channels to seek redressal. But to do what she did, is nothing but unacceptable behaviour. Let me also ask another question-can the boxer honestly claim that she has never been a beneficiary of a dodgy decision? What did she do then? Did she go up and say, I actually should lose and the victory should go the opponent. I am sure she has never done that.

    Finally, questions must be asked of th officials who were there and who did not pay the protest fee. Why did they do what they did? Was it because they were convinced of the decision or there were extraneous factors?

    1. For reason, my name got left out from previous post. It is Brijesh

  9. Judge Katju,

    Sir, you needs to Review decision and amend the blog.

    Kindly View this Video ….
    Pay special attention to time markers 9:40-9:50 of the video; Commentator too expressed surprise of Judge's decision

    I, as an individual, accept your assertion that "judges were fair" at its Face Value although I hold my reservations against
    the the primary logic used to justify it. Just because Judges happen to be from Tunisia, Italy, Poland, why would it be
    absurd to doubt their integrity?

    In my humble submission, What Sarita Devi has done is a good example of non-co operation and thereby cutting across all of the
    multiple layers of corruption in authority all of which she felt were biased against her. If you can, question the Indian Sports
    Admininstration Management as to why they failed to support her and why she had to take the step herself alone?

    Given that it is 2nd October, it is the most fitting tribute one can give to modern teacher of Non-Cooperation.

    I fully oppose your branding her co-operation as "Tantrum". BTW, I've also read about your fasting, so I understand :)

    As far as I can see, Person has unalienable right to not co-operate with anything that he/she deems unfair or unjust. That right
    does not come from any codified book but it comes sovereign almighty, by whichever name you choose to refer to him with.

    As Thomas Jefferson said it and I simply requote "If a law is unjust, a man is not only right in disobeying it, it is also his duty to do so".

    The way I see it, It is not just the medal or metal used to make the medal that is at stake here. It is faith of the Sportsperson in the already frail sports administration

    I, for one, would expect that you take cognizance of this matter and institute a suo-moto inquiry against Indian officials and make 'em tremble.

    I have recently learnt that Judges can, at their own discretion, take a simple post card as writ petition so treat this comment as same.

    Perhaps this could become a damn good chapter for your book.

  10. @mkatju, Indians are irrational and emotional people because that is only practical and sane approach left to survive. What they see and experience everyday would drive them insane otherwise .... If I had to choose between dealing with country full of insane people or country full of irrational people, I'd choose the latter.

  11. Sir, No doubt ur great but ur verdict is incomplete as u have not mentioned a word regarding Indian officials.
    Plz tell according to u what she should have done ?
    U looked to be more nervous by the way of medal rejection.
    Main culprits are officials and Sarita Devi requires councilling and minor verdict.
    Thank you.
    ( you can easily give the same verdict for all Indian freedom fighters)

  12. with due respect to everyone so senior & "Rational".
    Points of consideration are - Why would Indian coaches disagree so vehemently when others of their students' defeat is acceptable to them easily?

    Why can't the three judges be bribed? what is the impossibility in that ?

    Let's not expect Sarita Devi to behave like a British Lady. She is a poor Indian hard working women. So emotions are bound to overflow. And also accept the flawed functioning of sports associations.