Match-fixing in KPL cricket matches did not amount to offence of cheating under IPC: HC

In a setback to Bengaluru city police, the High Court of Karnataka has held that the acts of match-fixing, allegedly occurred during Karnataka Premier League (KPL) cricket matches held in August 2019, did not amount to an offence of cheating under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and quashed the chargesheet filed against two cricketers and others in the case.

“It is true that if a player indulges in match-fixing, a general feeling will arise that he has cheated the lovers of the game. But, this general feeling does not give rise to an offence,” the court observed.

Justice Sreenivas Harish Kumar passed the order while allowing the petitions filed by cricketers Abrar Kazi and C.M. Gautam, who were players of Ballari Tuskers franchise team of KPL, Ali Ashpak alias Asfak Hanif Thara, owner of Belagavi Panthers franchise, all resident of Bengaluru , and Amit Mavi, a bookie based in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad.

BCCI’s domain

The court said, “The match-fixing may indicate dishonesty, indiscipline and mental corruption of a player and for this purpose, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is the authority to initiate disciplinary action. If the bylaws of the BCCI provides for the initiation of disciplinary action against players such an action is permitted. But registration of an FIR, on the grounds that a crime punishable under section 420 of the IPC has been committed, cannot be permitted.”

On the claim by the prosecution that match-fixing amounts to cheating and therefore the offence under section 420 of the IPC had been invoked in the chargesheet, the court said that for invoking section 420 of the IPC, the essential ingredients to be present are deception, dishonest inducement of a person to deliver any property or to alter or destroy the whole or any part of valuable security.

“No inducement”

Further, on the argument by the prosecution that cricket lovers go to watch the match by buying tickets and thereby they are “induced to part with their property, that is, their money,” the court said that, “of course, money is a property, but the argument that cricket lovers are induced to buy tickets cannot be accepted”.

“They [cricket lovers] may have a feeling that they are going to witness a fair game being played, but they buy tickets voluntarily. So question of inducement to buy ticket can be ruled out,” the court observed.

The court also declined to accept the argument that betting amounts to gaming, which is an offence under the Karnataka police act in case of KPL matches.

“If section 27 of the Karnataka Police Act is seen, its explanation very clearly says that game of chance does not include any athletic game or sport. Cricket is a sport and therefore even if betting takes place it cannot be brought within the ambit of definition of gaming found in the Karnataka Police Act,” the court observed.

“Even if the entire chargesheet averments are taken to be true on their face value, they do not constitute an offence,” the court made clear while quashing the entire criminal proceeding initiated against the petitioners.

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Printable version | May 19, 2022 9:11:45 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/match-fixing-in-kpl-cricket-matches-did-not-amount-to-offence-of-cheating-under-ipc-hc/article38298197.ece