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For drink driving,cabbie has to look after shoes in temple for two months

At the Sai Baba temple in Lodi Road,Thursday is the day devotees queue up. Rajesh Kumar was busy inside the footwear handling booth,his new work place for the next two months.

Written by Jayant Sriram | New Delhi |
October 21, 2011 5:20:54 am

Rajesh Kumar sentenced by sessions court after he appealed four-day imprisonment and fine

At the Sai Baba temple in Lodi Road,Thursday is the day devotees queue up. Rajesh Kumar was busy inside the footwear handling booth,his new work place for the next two months.

A taxi driver,he is one of the volunteers. He was sentenced to community service by a court for drink driving and it was his first day at work.

Kumar was initially sentenced to four days imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2,000 by a metropolitan magistrate after he failed a breathlyzer test. Whe he appealed to a sessions court,it took a different view of the matter. It said that since he was a first-time offender and had two children and a widowed mother to look after,he could pay the fine and would be sentenced to seven hours of community service at the temple.

“The sentencing policy followed in India is based on reformative theory and not on retributive theory. The purpose of sentence is,and should be,to reform a criminal so as to convert him into a law-abiding citizen. It is seen that the sentence of imprisonment sometimes hardens the first-time offender and instead of reforming him,makes him a hardened criminal,”Additional Sessions Judge Virender Bhat observed in his judgement.

While dealing with petty cases such as the present one,wherever it is felt necessary,the principle contained in almost all the religious scripture that “forgiveness is the best punishment… should be invoked,” the judge said.

Manning the temple’s footwear counter,often the busiest place on Thursdays,Kumar said he was happy to work there while he tried to make ends meet.

“The people here have been very good to me. After working here for the whole day,I can go back to my family who would have find it very difficult without me if I was jailed. I will get my driving licence back only after six months. Till then,I will also work at a tea shop near the airport,” he said.

Kumar is not the first person to do enforced community service at the temple. In fact,on his first day, another offender,Rajinder Kumar,was completing the last day of his two-month term at the shoe counter.

Dinesh Choula,manager of the Sai Baba Mandir,says that the courts have sent others too in the past.

“They don’t have to inform us. Offenders just come to us with a copy of the order from the court. We make them work in the shoe counter since we already have a staff of about 50-60 people who work in the temple. But there is plenty of work to do on Thursdays,” he said.

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