This is a true story.
I was a Capt in 20 PUNJAB, posted at Meerut in 1988. Since 20 PUNJAB had won the Boxing championship of 32 Brigade (the other two battalions in the Brigade were 17 DOGRA & 9 SIKH LI). I was the team captain of the Brigade team to take part at the higher level.
Raj Singh of 9 SIKH LI was the winner in the welter weight (63.5 to 67 kg). Mohinder Singh of my unit was the winner in the light middle weight (67 to 71 kg). We followed a protocol that any Boxer could choose to shift his weight category & for doing so he had to challenge the winner of the chosen weight category. A trial would be conducted and if the challenger won, then he was permitted to shift the weight category & if he lost, then status-quo was to be maintained. Mohinder Singh was one of the best Boxers of 20 PUNJAB & had in 1986 represented Northern Command in the Services championship in the welter weight. Mohinder Singh was used to competing from light welter weight (60-63.5 kg) to light middle weight. I had been training 20 PUNJAB Boxers for 5 years & could be considered as close to Mohinder Singh.
When I told Raj that Mohinder was keen to box in the welter weight he was unhappy & felt that the trial was just a sham & the decision had already been made. I appreciated his outlook. His view had been shaped by his life experiences. I told him that he should get ready for the trial. He reluctantly agreed.
A confident Mohinder took on a reluctant Raj. Raj was sharp and he could think better on his feet than Mohinder. From the second round onward Raj began to get the better of the exchanges & was no longer intimidated by Mohinder’s reputation. Raj narrowly won the trial. Winning a bout is one thing and getting a favourable judgment is another. To the surprise of practically all the Boxers of 9 SIKH LI & 17 DOGRA I announced that Raj had won the trial and he would represent the team in his chosen weight category & Mohinder would box in the light middle weight category.
Impact of Judgment
· I won the loyalty of 9 SIKH LI & 17 DOGRA Boxers & became accepted as a fair and impartial leader of the Brigade team.
· 20 PUNJAB Boxers accepted me as a leader but met the CO and ensured that I was never nominated to judge in any Boxing competition ever so long as I served with 20 PUNJAB. Their outlook: fairness is okay, but there is a limit to fairness!
Lessons for Today
When judges pronounce judgments, they are apprehensive about the response their judgment will elicit from the society. The judgments given in “Panch Parmeshwar” by Jumman Shaikh and Algu Chaudhary may have been idealistic or a reflection of the contemporary society as perceived by Prem Chand. We do not see such judgments in India these days. The judges are overly pressurized by the ruling government and the Hindu majority. Former Justice Gogoi, in giving his important judgments, must have spent more time in weighing the pros and cons of the judgment rather than the evidence and the principles of equity and fairness. He also had the problem of dealing with a sexual harassment charge against him, in which he needed help from the government. As a sportsman in my twenties I was just trying to be fair. I did not even think about the consequences my judgment would have on my future in the unit & yes, I was not facing any sexual harassment charge. Maybe Justice Gogoi would have given a bolder judgment in his twenties. Age, experience, ego, ambitions and pragmatism change people for the better or for the worse.