Saturday, August 11, 2007

Good Conduct

Sanjay Dutt, the Indian actor, who has been handed down six years rigorous imprisonment, can not complain as much against the sentence, as against the time of pronouncing the same. He is being punished today for having acted as a 'khal nayak' (villain) fifteen years back while all these years he has proved his credentials as a 'nayak' (hero). It is like slapping or canning a post graduate student, who is now well disciplined and bright in studies, but had committed some mistake in his second or third standard when he was a brat. The delayed punishment, meted out to a person who has reformed himself after having been caught in the act, can have reverse effect on his behaviour. He can throw the discipline to the winds and become a criminal again.

I myself have been rewarded for my good conduct by the Police of different states at many occasions. Well, please do not get alarmed. I am not a fugitive or a criminal, but I have been getting caught for minor traffic violations from time to time, (most of the time for the fault of others) right since the time that I have been driving on the Indian roads. Initially I used to argue with traffic cops trying to explain my position to them which never produced any favourable results. Therefore, I decided never to argue with them or not even requesting them to reduce or wave the fine. And believe me, this strategy has helped because more often than not, the cops let me go away without paying any fine.

Though, there have been many such incidents, but let me share two of them here. The first time I entered Bombay in my car, in which I drove down with my family from Valsad ( Gujarat), I violated the very first traffic signal at Dahisar, the entry point of Bombay by road from north. I had stopped at the red light in the right most lane and when the lights turned green I drove away straight in the front direction. No sooner I had moved a few yards, than I heard a few shriek whistles. My wife told me, that perhaps the whistles were aimed at our car. Sure enough, a cop in white shirt was rushing towards us. I pulled up to the left of the road and stopped. As he was taking out the charge slip book from his pocket I got down, handed him my driving licence without his asking and told him that it was the first time that I was driving into Bombay city. He looked at the family siting in the car and luggage loaded on top carrier. My car had the Gujarat registration number. Instead of signing the charge slip, he took out a small paper from his pocket, drew a sketch on it and explained to me the rules of lane driving. If you stop in the right most lane at any traffic signal, you are not supposed to drive straight but have to turn right and if you have to go straight then you have to stop in the middle lane. I had learnt the first traffic lesson of lane driving of busy Bombay city, thanked him and proceeded without paying any fine.

At another occasion, I was driving down on the Aurangzeb Road in Delhi after having dropped a friend at the railway station. Dr. Manmohan Singh had just taken over as Prime Minister, but had not shifted from his earlier residence to the official one at Race Course Road. The Delhi Police had cordoned off the entire stretch of the by lane on which his residence was located. Naturally that area, including some part of Aurangzeb Road was declared a zero tolerance zone by the traffic police. I was driving well within the speed limits. Suddenly, an auto rickshaw driving in front of me applied brakes to pick up some passenger who had waved at him from other side of the road. Had I applied brakes at that juncture, I sure would have banged into his rear. To avoid that, I swung my car to the right and steered clear of him. In the bargain, I crossed the centre line and digressed briefly on the other half of the road. It was early morning, so there was no vehicle coming from the opposite direction. The autorickshaw had meanwhile picked up his passenger, taken a U turn and had disappeared. Lo and behold, a traffic constable appeared in front of me from no where and signalled me to stop. Sometimes while driving, if you are desparate to see the face of a traffic cop then just violate some traffic rule. The guy will appear from thin air. In such situations the first thing he will ask you is for your driving licence. He asked for mine and I handed him the same which I had obtained in 1981. It is the old booklet type, as against today's laminated cards. The cop, a burly looking Haryanvi , looked at it with doubt writ large on his face. He saw my photograph which was in turban and then again looked at me. (I have been getting my licence renewed every five years and always submit my recent photographs but the RTO authorities do not insist on changing the original photograph and just extend the validity date). He asked me whose licence it was. I told him it was mine. He turned the pages and saw other details which were in order. He asked me to pay Rs. 1100/-. He said that I had violated the yellow line. Yellow line is the center line on the road where there are no structural road dividers. He told me that the fine for yellow line violation was Rs 1100/-. Luckily I had the dough on me. I dutifully took out two crisp five hundred rupee notes along with another hundred rupee one from my wallet and gave it to him. He looked at me with disbelief. I kept smiling at him while extending my hand holding the money. I could make out that it must have been the first time that some one was paying him the fine on the spot, without offering him bribe or trying to get the fine reduced or getting into argument with him. He asked me for my introduction. I told him my present occupation. He did not take money from me and asked me to proceed. I asked him the reason for his mercy. He said "saahb, yeh aapke gudd kandakt ke liye, darasal galtee toh otto wale kee thee." (this for your good conduct sir, in fact the fault was that of the auto wallah). I thanked him and proceeded on without paying any fine, the reward of good conduct.


Anonymous said...

I don't think I agree with your views on Sanjay. It certainly is not right that even criminal justice (that too in a terrorist case!) takes 13 years to be delivered - the legal system is certainly to blame for that. However, letting a criminal off would just help make more criminals in the bargain. The ill is the time taken to give justice, not the justice itself which has been doled out. If anything, the judge has been lenient by giving only 6 years (one of the other guys got 5, and since Sanjay's crime was more serious it had to be longer).


Anonymous said...

Yeah Balli,
Good conduct almost ALWAYS pays !! Continue being GOOD.

Anonymous said...

Well said Balli.

Anonymous said...

Very well written and very entertaining Sir.

Anonymous said...

Dear Balvinder,

Kismat Acchi thi, Otto Tha, Agar Blue Line hoti to kahani uska driver liktha!! Delhi me Sambhal ke chalana!!

With best regards

Kaza Sudhakar

Chief General Manager

Customer Service Department

Reserve Bank of India

Anonymous said...

Dear Balvinder,

Good Conduct ultimately rewards.

Thanks and keep sharing your experiences.


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading it.


Anonymous said...

The Gandhian priciples are still very very effective in nonviolent situations.Thanx for the writeup,


Anonymous said...

Interesting instances. More likely to happen in Mumbai. In Delhi it would be a rare experience.

I agree good conduct does matter and need to be considered before pronouncing any judgement.


Rajan Goyal

Anonymous said...

Hey!!! You write so so well. I hope you are sending this sensitively written piece to some newspaper.

Let them know what crime/s has been committed by the so called judicial system.

Not only in Sanjay dutt's case but in several other such cases where real innocents are punished. Where there is no reward for good behaviour or redeemed persons. The consequences of that can be dangerous.

Even people who are just spectators of the system of so called justice can get enraged. Enraged enough to turn hostile and violent.

Ther is a sense of justice and injustice in every one of us – not just in the courts.

I would like to start a campaign/ movement against such “justice” – where the real culprits are always going scot free. The real culprits (of the riot killings) are not even known or talked about!!!

Keep up the good writing.


Mampi said...

Agree with you on the good conduct reward.
I m the only odd woman out here, with everybody else signing in as anon. LOL
Sanjay has been more wronged than the wrong he committed.
I loved the comment by Kaza Sudhakar. Ke blue line wala kahani likhda..

Balvinder Singh said...

Thank you Manpreet. No, you are not alone, you have the company of Dolly, Usha and Mitali here. Since they are not bloggers so signed as anon.

Yes our Mr. Kaza Sudhakar is famous for making such comments.

Anonymous said...

Dear Balvinder, i need to point out that the auto-wallah was NOT at fault. In my opinion you would be at fault if you had banged the Auto, just because you were not maintaining a safe distance from the Auto. Just stopping your vehicle from some reason is not an offence.

Balvinder Singh said...

Anonymous --

Yes, the autowalah was entitled to pick up his passenger waiving at him but if he was to stop so suddenly then he should have given proper signal about the same to the vehicles following behind him like raising his hand with palm facing forward to indicate that his vehicle was coming to a sudden stop.

As regards keeping safe distance from the vehicle in front, i have tried that too but the vehicles behind you would not allow you to do that and the moment you leave some gap between the vehicle in your front some other vehicle would overtake you and would butt in to occupy that safe distance.

No one is at fault unless some mishap happens and it is always the bigger vehicle which is held responsible.

Thanks for the visit. keep coming here. I love critical appreciations.