In an explosive betting and spot-fixing scandal in the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) exposed by the Delhi police, several bookies with links to the underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and other foreign criminals as well as top cricketers of Rajasthan Royals franchise S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan are set to be arrested by the Delhi police for spot-fixing, cheating and accepting payments in black money.
As of now, reports indicate that the police have charged the bookies and cricketers with cheating and conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code. Several other top national and International cricketers are said to be under the scanner and may be arrested. However, while this new scandal is not surprising and it has been commented several times, especially by journalist Ed Hawkins in his book that almost all IPL and other International matches were fixed in the recent past, what is surprising is that the police have charged cricketers with criminal offences for the first time.
A media report indicates that the cricketers are charged under Section 420 and 120-B of IPC (cheating and criminal conspiracy) which entails up to seven years of imprisonment and fine. However, it is widely perceived that fixing matches is not a criminal offence and would only entail disciplinary action by cricket boards.
Even during earlier allegations of match-fixing in IPL and even in the Indian cricket team, no chargesheet was filed against any cricketer and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in its preliminary report in 2000 (on cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin) had stated that no criminal offence was made outthrough the match-fixing allegations.
However, it remains to be seen whether further charges of money-laundering, violation of foreign exchange and tax laws and indulging in organised crime activities are framed against the cricketers especially since there is a link with the underworld and organised crime syndicates. Further it is still not clear whether provisions of the Delhi Police Act, 1978 and the Delhi Public Gambling Act, 1955 for betting and cheating will be invoked against the cricketers. Section 108 (1) of the Delhi Police Act provides for punishment for cheating in games as follows: