In a slap to Delhi police, a court on Saturday discharged all 36 accused including India's test discard S Sreesanth and two other cricketers Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan, in the 2013 IPL-6 spot-fixing case, saying it failed to gather "all necessary ingredients to establish a prima facie case" under stringent MCOCA.
Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan -- who were on bail were also discharged in the case in which six persons including underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and his aide Chhota Shakeel were declared proclaimed offenders.
"All are discharged (from the case)," Additional Sessions Judge Neena Bansal Krishna said while pronouncing the order. The case was put for order on framing of charges against the 36 accused persons who were on bail.
Cricketers eye comeback
Sreesanth, Mumbai left-arm spinner Ankeet Chavan and Rajasthan off-spinner Ajit Chandila were literally in tears when the Patiala House Court dropped all charges of spot- fixing against them, reports Times of India.
"I am feeling very happy at the moment and hope that I start training soon. I hope to get permission from the BCCI to start using the training facilities soon, so that I can get fit and get into the selection process. God has been extremely kind," Sreesanth told reporters.
It was on the night of May 16, 2013 that the Special Cell of the Delhi Police arrested Sreesanth, Chandila and Chavan for alleged spot-fixing in IPL matches. “Every moment in the last two years has been tough for me and my family," Sreesath told Hindustan Times.
“It was tough, but the court has declared me clean. I had done nothing, but I have gone through this phase. I want to leave this behind and play again,” said the former Mumbai spinner Chavan.
Why the Delhi police faced court ire
The court, which dropped all charges against 36 accused, held that the Special Cell of Delhi Police has been unable to establish any "nexus" or link between accused and crime syndicate allegedly run by underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and his close aid Chhota Shakeel who have been declared as proclaimed offenders in the case along with one Sandeep.
In his 175-page order, Additional Sessions Judge Neena Bansal Krishna said "...it can be concluded that even if entire evidence of prosecution is accepted, then too it is not established that there exists a core crime syndicate of Dawood-Chhota Shakeel who have been indulging in the organized offence of betting and match fixing and also dealing with money so generated through hawala."
Besides three cricketers who were the part of IPL team Rajasthan Royals and banned for life for their alleged involvement in crime, several bookies among 36 were named in the 6000-page chargesheet in which police had claimed to have unearthed sufficient evidence to prosecute them for the offence punishable under section 120 B (conspiracy) read with 419 (cheating by personation), 420 (cheating) of IPC and under the provisions the stringent MCOCA.
However, the judge said, "in the given situation, bound as this court is with the law of the land, it is contrained to conclude that no prima facie case under MCOCA or any other Penal statute is disclosed against any of the accused persons, who are all entitled to be discharged."
"The prosecution has not been able to establish that there is any continuing unlawful activity of crime syndicate as it has not been able to meet the requirement of there being more than one FIR in preceding 10 years against the syndicate," the court said.
Further, it said "no nexus or link between various accused" with Dawood's alleged Pakistan-based aide Dr Javed Chutani "as part of organized group has been established." "Also, the offence in relation to which MCOCA is sought to be invoked, pertains to betting and match fixing, which as discussed above does not fit in any Penal statute. All the necessary ingredients to establish a prima facie case under the provisions of MCOCA is not made out," the court said.
Castigating Delhi Police for involing MCOCA, the court said, "the best case could have been under Public Gambling Act, but that also is not prima facie established from the evidence placed on record by the prosecution."
"The offence of cheating is also not made out prima facie, even if the entire evidence of prosecution is admitted without formal proof," the court added.
The court said, "in view of the huge vacuum of law in this regard it is helpless to proceed further under any of the penal statutes." However, it questioned the probe of the Delhi Police saying that there was a need to examine whether those arrested along with cricketers were alleged bookies and conduit in the crime.
"The crime in regard to which MCOCA was sought to be invoked is of betting and match fixing. Though, as discussed above the offence of MCOCA is not made out, it still needs to be examined if the accused persons who are alleged to be bookies and their associates and conduits be considered to have committed any offence under Public Gambling Act," the court said.
What had happened earlier
The court had on May 23 reserved for today the order on framing of charges in the case. Special Cell of Delhi Police had named 42 accused in the case in its charge sheet out of whom six are absconding. Police had told the court that properties of Dawood and Shakeel in Mumbai have already been attached in connection with the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case and that they have not visited India since 1993.
On July 14, 2015, the Justice RM Lodha-led committee, appointed by Supreme Court, suspends Sreesanth's IPL team Rajasthan Royals for two years alongwith Chennai Super Kings. Royals' co-owner Raj Kundra, already found guilty of corruption, is also banned from all cricket activities for life.
(With inputs from PTI)