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Supreme Court quashes criminal case against MS Dhoni

The apex court dismissed allegations that Dhoni had hurt religious sentiments on the grounds that there was no malicious intent to do so.

MS Dhoni India Cricket
The April 2013 issue of Business Today, which depicted Dhoni as Lord Vishnu

What’s the story? 

MS Dhoni might be struggling for form in the ongoing tenth edition of the IPL, but the former Indian skipper breathed a huge sigh of relief. The Supreme Court dismissed the criminal complaint filed against the cricketer alleging that he had hurt religious sentiments following his depiction as Lord Vishnu on the cover of a leading business magazine. 

The case, which dates back to 2013, seems to have finally seen its end with the apex court quashing the petition filed by Yerraguntla Shyam Sundar, a local leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP),  in Andhra Pradesh, like it had done when a similar complaint was made in Karnataka. 

The bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra ruled out any criminal proceedings against Dhoni on the grounds that the 34-year-old had no malicious intent in mind when he gave the consent to be pictured as a Hindu god. 

In case you didn’t know...

Dhoni was forced to approach the Supreme Court when the controversy regarding the sensitive issue led to an arrest warrant being issued against the wicketkeeper-batsman by a local court in the Anantpur district of Andhra Pradesh. 

Extra Cover: Andhra Pradesh court issues arrest warrant against MS Dhoni

A complaint filed by social activist Jayakumar Hiremath in Bangalore on the same issue resulted in Dhoni having to file a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the SC against the Karnataka High Court after it refused to remove criminal proceedings against him. 

However, the Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi had quashed the case in Karnataka on September 5, 2016, as the correct procedure was not followed in the case. 

The heart of the matter

Today’s judgement will no doubt be a huge relief for Dhoni who has been weighed down with the controversy for close to four years.

What started out as anger from a section of the society, became a matter of concern for Dhoni with a non-bailable arrest warrant being issued against him by a court in Vijayawada, before the Karnataka High Court made a scathing remark on the cricketer for not thinking about the consequences while signing big-money endorsements. 

The Supreme Court, has, however, come to the rescue of Dhoni, first in Karnataka and now in Andhra Pradesh, making an observation that there was intent on Dhoni’s part to hurt religious sentiments. The bench was of the opinion that it would be grossly unfair to proceed against the cricketer as well as the editor of the magazine, who was also facing a similar charge as Dhoni. 

What’s next?

Dhoni has been struggling for form in the IPL thus far for Rising Pune Supergiant. Asked to step down as skipper of the franchise in favour of Australian Steven Smith, Dhoni has scored just 61 runs from 5 matches and has looked out of sorts in the little time he has spent in the middle. 

Dhoni will be hoping to mark the joy of success on the field sooner rather than later and he would be hoping to make an impact in RPS’ next fixture which will be against reigning IPL champions Sunrisers Hyderabad at home on Saturday. 

Extra Cover: IPL 2017: Suresh Raina says players like Dhoni must always be respected

Author’s Take

Religious sentiments, unfortunately, take precedence on most occasions in a country like India where things which could be overlooked are taken so seriously, like in Dhoni’s case.

It was clearly a magazine’s attempt at depicting the importance of brand value and it was blown out of proportion to such an extent that the case has dragged on for close to four years now reaching up to the apex court in the country. 

Hopefully, today’s judgement brings an end to the whole controversy and allow Dhoni to concentrate on matters on the field rather than off it. 

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