Most often, ‘evidence’ acquired by cops in the event of a raid — a TV set, notebooks and the like — have no legal validity, leading to punters going scott-free, says MARRI RAMU

Notwithstanding repeated police raids, betting on cricket matches goes on unabated in the city.

Betting rackets busted one after the other by different wings of the Hyderabad and Cyberabad police recently, point to how police action has done little to deter the punters.

Different factors have contributed to uncontrolled cricket betting, the lure of easy money being prime among them. Another would be the failure of investigators to secure conviction of those involved in cricket betting. Records suggest that conviction rate in such cases is poor.

In all cases of betting, provisions of the A.P. Gaming Act are invoked against the arrested persons.

Since bookies operate secretly from a specific place, no other eyewitnesses are available except the operators themselves or their aides, when police raid their hideouts. All that police can rely on is circumstantial and material evidence. Mobile phones seized from them, notebooks or paper slips containing details of the money at stake and TV sets are the only articles investigators can use to link the accused to the crime.

Weak evidence

Lawyers say all these are rather weak proof. A TV set seized from a cricket bookie will be of little help in linking a bookie to betting. The accused would defend himself saying he was only watching the match and had no connection to betting. The notebooks containing the names of punters and the money exchanged are not legally valid as evidence.

“Cricket betting is organised on the basis of mutual trust between the bookie and the punters. Both parties know that entering into legally valid agreements would land them in trouble during police raids,” a police officer said. Tracking the trail of money based on the content of the notebooks is taking the police nowhere.

However, in recent raids, police have found punters using line boxes — a gadget used as a mini telephone exchange, enabling betting organisers to simultaneously speak with 20 or more punters over phones. Most bookies who use these gadgets, acquire a license for its use from the government. This can be used as crucial evidence against them, raising questions as to why they acquired the gadget and for what purpose. Interestingly, in none of these cases have the police succeeded in bringing the punters to book.

Officially, they claim to have seized records of the punters, their mobile phone numbers and money bet by the latter. Here too, the lack of evidence to link punters with bookies is becoming a stumbling block, say the police.

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