Since time immemorial cricket, once called “The Gentlemen’s Game” is one of the most widely played and accepted sport which now involves corrupt activities like spot fixing and sports betting as one of the fastest types of global crime and also an easy way of earning money. Betting on cricket matches in India has now become a tradition as it has been on the upswing ever since these matches were telecasted live on regular basis. Now they have become widespread across the country due to the excessive use of computer and mobile phones.
According to rough estimates, the turn over, on account of betting on any One-Day International match anywhere in the world, runs into hundred of crores1. With a substantial amount of mazuma at stake in the wagering racket on cricket, it makes sense for both bookies and punters to manipulate results of cricket matches. This has resulted in their developing a close and unholy relationship with cricketers.
Cricket’s biggest match fixing scandal was unearthed in 2000, when Hansie Cronje admitted he had accepted money to throw matches. Soon players from other countries were implicated, among them Mohammad Azharuddin and Salim Malik. Since then, allegations of fixing – including the new phenomenon of spot fixing have cropped up sporadically, and it has been acknowledged that bookmakers and the underworld have been active in trying to influence cricket results and specific moments in play.
In 2010, scandal reared its peek again when three leading Pakistan players were questioned by Scotland yard and suspended by the ICC over spot Fixing charges. Further in September 2010 the ICC suspended three Pakistani players – Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt as they were alleged to have carried out carried out specific on field actions including no balls at pre determined times, during the Lord’s Test against England on the instance of a bookie. The three were handed long bans by the ICC before the matter moved to the British Crown courts, where all three were convicted and sentenced to spells of detention.
Another major scandal in 2013, wherein the Enforcement Directorate (ED) charged four bookies under the ‘Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PLMA) for indulging in cricket betting. They have been charged under Sections 418 (cheating with knowledge that wrongful loss may ensue to person whose interest the offender is bound to protect), Section 419 (punishment for cheating), Section 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), Section 467 (forgery of valuable security), Section 471 (using as forged document) along with Section 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.
The 2013 Indian Premier League spot fixing and betting case arose when the Delhi Police arrested three cricketers, Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan, on the charges of spot-fixing. The three represented the Rajasthan Royals in the 2013 Indian Premier League. On July 25, 2015 a supplemental session’s judge in Delhi discharged 42 individuals incriminated of having been involved in a systematic racket to wager on, and fine-tune, cricket matches during the sixth edition of the IPL. The list of those acquitted included three cricketers who had participated in that season’s IPL: Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan. The trio has now been exonerated of all malefactor charges levied against them, including those under the draconian Maharashtra Control of Organised Malefaction Act, 1999 [MCOCA]. Their prospects of returning to cricket, while obscure, are certainly enhanced by the judgment. MCOCA is a special law enacted to counter the dangers of serious organised crime. Notable underworld dons Dawood Ibrahim and Chota Shakeel were actively involved with these cricketers to throw up matches, which was the primary claim of the Delhi Police. But today after almost two years after these 3 prominent cricketers arrested, Judge Naveen Bansal Krishna’s judgement has erased all these charges against these cricketers by bringing into light a void that prevents the Indian state from punishing any person involved in spot fixing. The three major points put forward by Judge Naveen were, Firstly there was no evidence that the cricketers who were involved in such activities had any nexus with bookies and brutes, Secondly the offence of spot fixing, and Thirdly there was no conclusion made on the basis of the evidences provided to prove these cricketers guilty.
A reading of Judge Krishna’s judgment appears to suggest that even such minimal evidence, demonstrating any potential offence, might be absent in these cases. The cricketers, therefore, might be in a strong position to approach the BCCI with new petitions to have their bans overturned. Though the BCCI has stood by its original decision, its secretary Anurag Thakur has now confirmed that if a request is made by any of the three cricketers, the BCCI would be willing to consider his case afresh2.
A week after the arrests, the crisis takes a new twist when Mumbai Police summons Gurunath Meiyappan, top official of Chennai Super Kings and BCCI president N Srinivasan’s son-in-law, for questioning in connection with betting. Supreme Court-appointed Justice R.M. Lodha Committee suspended IPL cricket franchisees India Cements Ltd (ICL) and Jaipur IPL Pvt Ltd (JIPL) from the Indian Premier League for two years. In a judgment read out by former Chief Justice of India Lodha, the committee further suspended for life former BCCI president N. Srinivsan’s son-in-law and IPL team Chennai Super Kings’ official Gurunath Meiyappan and former Rajasthan Royals part-owner Raj Kundra from involving with BCCI in any cricket matches. The two team officials found guilty of betting by the Supreme Court were also suspended for a maximum 5 years from taking part in any cricketing activities.
According to call data records of the IPL spot-fixing case, there were 200 calls made between Vindoo Dara Singh, bookie Vikarm Aggarwal and Gurunath Meiyappan in just three days, as per media reports. It also stated that Meiyappan, son-in-law of ICC boss N Srinivasan had procured mobile sim cards by submitting fake documents for the purpose of cricket betting. Few days back the Forensic Science Laboratory in Mumbai had identified the voice of Meiyappan in a tapped phone conversation. According to multiple media reports, Meiyappan was heard talking Vindoo Dara Singh, an accomplice in this case. After which the BCCI announced that a three member commission will investigate the role of Mr. Meiyappan in the spot-fixing and betting scandal. On 31 May 2013, a senior Mumbai Police official said that Mr. Meiyappanan had been warned by an official from the International Cricket Council’s ACSU. Mr. Meiyappan was later released on bail by a Mumbai court on 3 June 2013.