The Delhi Police Special Cell has approached broadcaster Set Max to obtain raw copies of video footage of the three Indian Premier League matches in which three Rajasthan Royals bowlers had allegedly fixed spots at the instance of bookies for huge considerations.
The money suspected to have been changed hands as part of the deal is yet to be recovered.
The police had earlier shared the footage confirming that S. Sreesanth and Ankeet Chavan had made pre-determined coded gestures and given away runs in the second over of their spells as agreed upon over phone with the bookies. The raw footage would be required as an evidence to prove in the court that the conspiracy hatched to fix spots had indeed been executed by the accused players.
“S. Sreesanth was paid Rs.10 lakh in advance through his aide Jiju Janardanan for conceding nearly 14 runs during the match between Rajasthan Royals and King’s XI Punjab at Mohali on May 9. As decided between Jiju and the bookie over telephone, a recording of which we have with us, Sreesanth had tucked a towel in his trousers and did a warm-up and stretching exercise to signal the bookies that he would give away the required runs during his second over,” said a police officer, adding Chavan had given away over 13 runs for a promised consideration of Rs.60 lakh.
The police on Saturday conducted searches at the Faridabad residence of Ajit Chandila and have made some recoveries. “We have seized all the communication instruments that were used by the accused. They are sufficient for us to carry forward the probe,” said the officer.
Will the charge hold in court?
Although the police have invoked Section 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code in the case, veteran investigators say the charge would in all probability not hold in court. “Who is the loser in this case and who was put to wrongful loss? It is indeed a splendid detection on the part of the Delhi Police and all credit must go to them as it would certainly help cleanse the game of cricket. However, in legal terms it is the state which is the complainant in this case. The fact is that the state did not lose anything due to the alleged illegal act of the players and the bookies,” said one of them.
Another officer said the persons who were deceived or kept in the dark in this case are either those who purchased tickets to watch the cricket matches in question thinking that it was a fair game or the Rajasthan Royals team management which had an agreement with these players. “However, a cheating case is made out only when one loses money and the other subsequently gains out of it,” said the officer, adding that in an act of cheating, a person dishonestly induces the person deceived to deliver any property to any person.
Investigations into such instances of fixing during cricket matches in the past have given indications that top bookies operating in different parts of the country were invariably linked to Chhota Shakeel, a close aide of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, who usually operates from Dubai. “Phone intercepts have indicated his role, but there is no direct evidence of his involvement or that of any other underworld figure in such cases. Over the years, the bookies remain in touch with their handlers through teleconferencing using multiple phones and calls are so diverted from one phone to the other that the trail goes out of the country and is eventually lost,” said the officer, adding that among those involved in betting business are top businessmen in and around Delhi.
Police officers said since the matter is not as serious as offences like terrorism, it becomes difficult to pursue the leads beyond a certain limit and the focus therefore remains on building a watertight case against those caught red-handed. Even when the bookies are arrested on charges of gambling, existing laws prescribe minor punishments. They also said that often in such cases it is difficult to come by tangible evidence against the underworld elements.
The Special Cell, on the basis of the purported revelations made by the 14 accused persons and recorded conversations between them, is also conducting investigations to ascertain whether spot-fixing was done during the previous IPL editions as well.