Delhi cops face challenge in building case

New Delhi, May 21 -- Sensational revelations may be fine but the police needs solid evidence to prove the charges against former Test pacer Sreesanth and two other cricketers arrested for spot-fixing to secure their conviction in court.

The fate of past match-fixing cases, including the one in 2000 involving then South Africa captain Hansie Cronje, Herschelle Gibbs and Nicky Boje where the chargesheet has not been filed even after 13 years, don't inspire much confidence.

The ban by the Indian Board of Mohammad Azharuddin, Manoj Prabhakar, Ajay Jadeja and Ajay Sharma, on the other hand, came after an internal investigation following the Central Bureau of Investigation's probe report on corruption in cricket.

In 2000, as in the current case, Delhi police filed charges against Cronje and Co after conversations between players and bookies were taped. Sreesanth and his Rajasthan Royals teammates Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan have been booked under IPC sections 420 (cheating) and 120 B (criminal conspiracy).

Lawyer Deepak Prakash, who will seek bail for Sreesanth on Tuesday when the five-day police custody comes to an end, told HT: "Match fixing is not a criminal offence. I will demand that the entire criminal proceeding which has been initiated needs to be quashed." The police is expected to seek extension of remand on grounds that they need to confront the trio with those freshly arrested and to make certain recoveries.

It remains to be seen how strong a case Delhi police are able to build. Law Minister Kapil Sibal said on Sunday there was no scope to prosecute as match-fixing is not an offence under IPC. "The nearest provision under which anyone can be booked is for cheating. But past experience has not been very good as attempts to prosecute have failed. So there is a need for amendment," he said.

Says Vineet Malhotra, lawyer for Ajay Jadeja, who was given a clean chit by the Delhi High Court in 2005: "Startling disclosures is not enough. Facts should be sufficient to institute a criminal offence. Criminal proceedings against players accused of match-fixing in 2000 could not begin as the CBI could not obtain sufficient legal evidence," he said.

"Proving that money paid was for fixing, tracing the money trail, analysing voice samples and establishing that the voice transcripts were not tampered with is a tall order," added former Delhi High Court judge RS Sodhi.

Sree's plea disposed

The plea of arrested Indian pacer S Sreesanth that he be provided with a copy of the FIR of the IPL spot-fixing scandal case was on Monday disposed of by a Delhi court as his lawyer did not turn up to pursue it.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.


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