The cricketer and eighteen others, including his former teammate Ankeet Chavan, get bail

Observing that there is no reason to believe that the accused in the spot-fixing case, includingformer Rajasthan Royals’ pacer S. Sreesanth and his former teammate Ankeet Chavan, are guilty under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crimes Act (Mcoca), a city court here on Monday granted them bail.

Ajit Chandila, the other RR player caught along with Sreesanth and Chavan, and six other accused have not yet applied for bail.

The Delhi Police had earlier drawn criticism from all quarters for invoking stringent provisions of Mcoca on all the accused. Having heard the arguments from both sides, the court said prima facie there was no sufficient material on record against the accused persons to establish that they had a nexus with an organised syndicate of criminals.

Though there were allegations that bookies and the accused players fixed matches to benefit crime syndicates, the court said that after probing the matter deeply and perusing the materials it received, it found them insufficient to establish that there was such a nexus.

The court granted bail to Sreesanth, Chavan and 17 other accused on a personal bond of Rs. 50,000 and a surety of the like amount by each. Among those who got bail are 14 alleged bookies, who were arrested by the Special Cell for their role in spot-fixing, in conspiracy with the cricketers, during this year’s Indian Premier League. While investigations in the case are under way, the police have so far arrested 27 persons.

The police said they were yet to receive a copy of the court order granting bail to the 19 accused. “We will examine the court order and seek legal opinion before deciding further course of action. Expert opinion would also be sought to ascertain whether the grounds put forth by the police were adequately appreciated in the court.

“We have sufficient evidence to prima facie prove the complicity of the accused persons in the case. The fact that the bookies were operating in conspiracy with their underworld handlers and the cricketers facilitated or aided them warranted inclusion of Mcoca provisions in the case,” said a police officer.

The police are interrogating suspected bookie Ramesh Vyas to identify the others who were in touch with underworld dons Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Shakeel.

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