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‘Killer’ Kindness

Editorial |

Criminal action deserves punishment in accordance with the Indian Penal Code ~ nothing less suffices. Thus, while holding no brief for allegedly-tainted sports administrators Suresh Kalmadi and Abhay Singh Chautala, it is necessary to ask the sports minister if his outrage against both of them being declared honorary life-presidents of the Indian Olympic Association is a “cheap shot”. For it is much easier for the minister to threaten the IOA than to pressure the relevant investigating agencies into proceeding beyond the charge-sheet stage and secure the conviction of the two in courts of law. Admittedly the “honour” bestowed upon Kalmadi and Chautala caused genuine convulsions in the sporting fraternity, but the minister and his officials ~ as well as sensation-thriving sections of the media ~ cannot ignore the time-tested contention that people have to be deemed innocent until proven guilty. There are conflicting versions of how the IOA came about honouring its two former presidents who had to step down in some disgrace, but there was a blowback ~ it brought back into focus alleged misdeeds that had faded from public attention: so is it a case of kindness that killed? The public resentment has sufficed for Kalmadi to decline the IOA offer until judicially “cleared”, Chautala has laid down some conditions. Since there is no discernible political angle to the uproar (the previous sports minister in the UPA government has been as critical of the IOA action as the present incumbent from the BJP) the situation demands that the cases against Kalmadi and Chautala are processed to their logical conclusion. Kalmadi has been in the dock since the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in 2010, the disproportionate assets case against Chautala arose in 2013 ~ time enough for both sets of cases to be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted. If Vijay Goel means genuine business, rather than to secure media attention, he must deem himself duty-bound to accelerate the requisite legal action. For far too long have governments, regardless of their political complexion, made much of “bringing the culprits to book”, but done nothing beyond having inquiries conducted, cases registered, but allowed the prosecution to stagnate, falter. This trial by innuendo is as “criminal” as the actions for which Kalmadi and Chautala have been indicted, and Vijay Goel would invite severe criticism if he does not go beyond threatening the IOA and ensure that the penal code is duly invoked.