Sept. 21: Gurunath Meiyappan, son-in-law of Indian cricket chief N. Srinivasan, was today chargesheeted in an Indian Premier League betting case under penal code sections that some legal experts said were sufficient to nail an accused for fixing games.
Mumbai police had earlier said the suspended Chennai Super Kings official was being accused of betting and not fixing, but he has now been charged with betting as well as cheating and criminal conspiracy.
Since India has no law against fixing, it’s the cheating and conspiracy charges that have been invoked against all spot-fixing and match-fixing accused, such as the three disgraced Rajasthan Royals players and the late South Africa captain Hansie Cronje.
The cricket establishment has so far distanced itself from Gurunath on the ground that an individual has been accused of betting, over which it has no control. But if it is established that Gurunath compromised the integrity of a team owned by a company run by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president, the complexion and the sweep of the controversy will change.
Two senior lawyers told The Telegraph that the cheating and conspiracy charges were enough to prosecute an accused for rigging games but a third was unsure. None of the three lawyers was connected to the case.
“Yes, the existing provisions are sufficient; they can be interpreted to say there was match-fixing or spot-fixing,” criminal lawyer K.T.S. Tulsi said.
Asked about the purported transcripts of phone conversations between Gurunath and alleged bookie Vindoo Dara Singh that are part of the chargesheet (see chart), Tulsi said if the transcripts are genuine they would definitely be “relevant material”.
“How does one predict the number of runs unless there is fixing? If not match-fixing, what else is it?” Tulsi said.
Apart from the Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 420 which deals with cheating, the police have also dusted off and used an old anti-fraud law against Gurunath.
Section 130 of the Bombay Police Act, which deals with “cheating the public at large”, can be invoked to allege someone has won a bet on a game through fraud.
“Since there is no law against fixing, this section has been used to make a strong chargesheet,” Mumbai joint commissioner of police Himangshu Roy said. The chargesheet has the statements of five members of the public who complained of being cheated by “fixed” IPL matches. The police are probing if any Chennai Super Kings player was involved.
“We have no evidence against any player so far. It’s possible that Gurunath was acting alone, passing off information gathered at team meetings to bookies. But then the question arises, how could he have known which games the team would lose?” Roy said.
Srinivasan, who was forced to temporarily stop functioning as BCCI president after the IPL scandal broke in May, insisted he would contest the board president’s election at the September 29 annual general meeting in Chennai.
“I will chair the meeting as president and in spite of what you (the media) feel, I may get elected,” Srinivasan was quoted by PTI. “Why should I step aside? I am not disqualified and neither can you push me out.”
He distanced himself from his 35-year-old son-in-law, arrested on May 25 and bailed on June 3, who faces up to seven years in jail if convicted. “It is up to him to defend his position; it has got nothing to do with me,” Srinivasan said.
Twenty-one others, mostly alleged bookies, have been chargesheeted and face a range of charges: betting, forgery, cheating, harbouring an offender, criminal conspiracy, common intention and violations of the Information Technology Act. Among them is Vindoo, through whom Gurunath is said to have placed bets on IPL matches.
Senior lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani agreed with Tulsi that the cheating charge was enough to nail a fixing accused “because there is an implied assurance by all the players and others involved with the game to the paying public that the game would be fair”.
Another senior lawyer, Pandit Parmanand Katara, disagreed. He said Lord Macaulay, while enacting the IPC in 1860, could not have “anticipated that 200 years down the line there would be match-fixing allegations”.
“I don’t feel the transcripts and the provisions invoked are sufficient to get a conviction. But then, much depends on how a court interprets a provision in a given factual situation,” he said.
The chargesheet names Pakistani umpire Asad Rauf and 15 alleged bookies from that country as “wanted” accused. The police claim that bookies had sent gifts to Rauf.
Conversations cited as evidence
in the chargesheet against
| Gurunath Meiyappan arrives in court on Saturday. (PTI)
On May 12, Gurunath tells Vindoo
Dara Singh his team will score between 130 and 140 but he would bet on
Rajasthan Royals. Chennai Super Kings score 141 and Rajasthan win. Chargesheet says Gurunath was
aware his team would lose.
On May 13, Vindoo tells Gurunath
who is on his yacht: “Why are you
sitting in your boat, go sit with your
team and pass on information to
me so that I can place bets.”
On May 14, Gurunath tells Vindoo at 7.26pm during match between Chennai and Delhi DareDevils: “We are going to win 100 per cent.” Chennai do win
Gurunath has been charged with cheating the public, criminal
betting. In the
match-fixing case against him, Hansie Cronje was also charged with
cheating and criminal conspiracy. The same charges were brought
and the others in the IPL spot-fixing case
Ibrahim was named prime accused and
the organised crime law invoked
Maximum seven years in jail
and minimum one month, if
the charges are upheld
| N Srinivasan. File picture
N. Srinivasan, who is
and whose company India
Cements owns Chennai
Super Kings, distanced
himself from the controversy: “You people must realise that
I am not disqualified at
all…. This is a matter for
Mr Gurunath Meiyappan… it has got nothing to do with me.”
How does one predict
the number of runs unless there is fixing? If not match-fixing what else is it? These allegations are
sufficient for bringing home the offence
senior lawyer, not
connected with the case