It’s a tale of two dismissals during the ICC T20 World Cup Down Under. And they were off the field. No tears shed. No one probably cares enough to discuss it beyond the day’s news box item or television offbeat story. No review for these incidents too! As a crusader for justice, they continue to rankle, well after the Indian cricket team crashed out of the semi-finals to England. Because I doubt if the punishment fits the ‘crime’.
Here’s the drift.
An outsourced hotel employee filmed star batsman Virat Kohli’s hotel room and posted the video on the social media, which went viral. A justifiably upset Virat took exception to this flagrant violation of his privacy. The former Indian skipper’s post gave the incident more traction. It even made it to advertising billboards. The outcry led to the sacking of the hotel staff. I do not hold a brief for this action. The man was most definitely out of line. It was an egregious violation of privacy of any guest, let alone a celebrity. There may have also been security concerns.
A few questions crossed my mind. If there was any mala fide intention on his part, would the hotel employee have publicised it online? Was the staff given a hearing before he was “removed” from the hotel account? During the ongoing pandemic when jobs are hard to come by or retain, who will suffer – just the employee or also his family? Would his family lose their medical insurance? Would there be an elderly family member who may be hit? Will the tainted man be able to get another job in the same industry?
One may contend that this is not the complainant’s concern. And that the man ought to have thought about the possible repercussions before committing that breach. But I suspect it was a thoughtless, and in hindsight, a costly act on the spur of the moment. From what I have heard of Virat, while he is a no-nonsense professional, he is also known to be compassionate and sensitive. In a quiet moment, I hope, with his equally kind wife Anushka by his side, Virat feels like reaching out to the Hotel to re-hire the sacked bloke. Organisations focus on damage control. Let errant individuals also have a second chance. Not a ‘free hit’ in that sense but just a warning.
The other footage that still haunts me is of a boy, ostensibly a fan of Indian Captain Rohit Sharma, trespassing into the ground during the Indian Vs Zimbabwe match. If news reports are true, he has been slapped with an exemplary fine of 6.5 lakh rupees. That seems like a Shylockian pound of flesh for a relatively minor transgression.
The lad was unarmed and was carrying an Indian flag. Fans can be over-enthusiastic. That’s what makes them fans, as opposed to mere followers of the game! On international television, he was seen being tackled to the ground by security personnel. That would have been embarrassing and a reprimand in itself. I’m not sure of his age but he did look like a possible minor and would in all probability be covered by a juvenile statute. Is a fine of that extent prescribed under the law? Or was it an arbitrary imposition? Would the delay caused due to his intrusion have led to a few ‘extras’ – commercial advertisements during that short period? In that case, why can’t the organisers make good the security breach, which caused the intrusion in the first place?
We may have lost the T20 World Cup but Team India can win hearts by appealing for clemency for the two individuals, who come across as fans, not fanatics. Review, please.
(Sanjay Pinto is an Advocate practising at the Madras High Court, Columnist, Author of 4 Books and Former Resident Editor of NDTV 24×7. His 4th Book ‘High & Law’ published by Thomson Reuters is also available on amazon)