A Mumbai court on Tuesday extended the police custody of Chennai Super Kings team principal Gurunath Meiyappan till May 31 in connection with the Indian Premier League (IPL) spot-fixing scandal.
A haggard-looking Mr. Meiyappan, son-in-law of Board of Control for Cricket (BCCI) president N. Srinivasan, was produced before a local court by Crime Branch officials who sought an extension of his remand even as the team probing the case returned from Chennai.
In its remand application, the Crime Branch stressed on the necessity of confronting Mr. Meiyappan and Bollywood actor Vindoo Dara Singh with Chennai-based hotelier Vikram Agarwal — known as Victor — who has been summoned to appear on May 31.
‘Coded’ telephonic conversations that took place between Mr. Meiyappan and Mr. Singh, including those related to players, possibly for placing bets, had to be deciphered.
It further noted that articles recovered by the Crime Branch team from Mr. Meiyappan’s residence in Chennai had to be put across to Mr. Singh for verification.
Mr. Meiyappan is accused of passing information to Mr. Singh regarding team strategy and players, which were in turn sent to bookies. Investigators will also look for possible clues in the diary recovered from Mr. Meiyappan’s residence.
In addition, the remand application also mentioned that one of the phones that Mr. Meiyappan used for establishing contact with Mr. Singh and the bookies was in the name of one of his employeesnamed P. Kamalanathan. “This issue has to be probed further.”
Mr. Agarwal, promoter of hotel Radisson Blu in Chennai, is thought to be a key link between clients and absconding bookies which include the brothers, Pawan and Sanjay Jaipur, and Chandresh, also known as ‘Jupiter’.
During the course of their investigations in Chennai, the Crime Branch team recovered 3 mobile phones, 5 SIM cards and an Apple I-phone from Mr. Meiyappan’s luxury yacht ‘Orca’.
Defence counsel Harshad Ponda contested there was no case against Mr. Meiyappan, stating that no bailable offence could be constituted against his client as the police were yet to come up with any incriminating evidence against the CSK team principal.
“Any further investigation could be carried on without the presence of Mr. Meiyappan,” he said, noting that there was no mention of spot-fixing or match fixing in the remand application.
However, Additional Metropolitan Magistrate U.M. Padwad rejected the counsel’s arguments and extended Mr. Meiyappan’s remand stating: “The Investigating Officer has apprised me of certain material which is sufficient to throw light on role of the accused [Mr. Meiyappan].”
“The investigation so far has been quite progressive and has resulted in the collection of sufficient material evidence,” the judge said. Further custodial interrogation was imperative for the police to be given fair time and complete support to collect evidence.
On Tuesday, the court had extended till May 31 the custody of Mr. Singh and two others involved in the case, hawala operator Alpesh Taneja and bookie Prem Taneja.