, Pritam Pal Singh
| New Delhi |
Published: May 23, 2020 11:59:17 pm
Prime accused Sanjeev Chawla’s “non-cooperation” in the investigation of the 2000 Hansie Cronje match-fixing case, despite confronted with evidence, is seen as proof of his involvement in the crime. This is mentioned in the latest chargesheet filed by Delhi Police.
Earlier this month, Chawla had walked out of Tihar jail in the absence of the High Court’s stay on the trial court’s April 30 bail order. Following this relief, Delhi Police approached the Supreme Court on May 13, challenging the High Court order. The apex court is likely to take up the matter next month.
The other accused and Chawla’s alleged associates – Krishan Kumar, Rajesh Kalra, and Sunil Dara – are also out on bail. The Delhi Police chargesheet details the alleged role played by Chawla and others in fixing cricket matches during South Africa’s 2000 tour of India.
Cronje, who admitted to the South Africa government-appointed King Commission that he had accepted money from bookmakers for underperforming, died in a plane crash in 2002. Following his death, proceedings against him were abated by a July, 2017 court order.
Meanwhile, the Delhi-born Chawla after moving to London became a UK citizen. In February this year, the Delhi Court brought the 50-year-old British national to India after a lengthy extradition process.
Delhi Police’s final report in the case, that has now stretched for two decades, says: “The accused, Sanjeev Kumar Chawla, during his entire interrogation, remained non-cooperative and did not divulge any detail with regard to the offences committed by him … even after he was confronted with the evidences, which clearly prove his involvement in this case…”
However, the trial court, while granting bail, had observed that “in view of the fact that no cricket match was thrown/lost pursuant to alleged match-fixing, the applicant/accused Sanjeev Kumar Chawla is ordered to be released on bail…”.Chawla’s lawyer, Advocate Vikas Pahwa, says: “ It is a case of no evidence. It will be very difficult to prove a case of cheating in this case, as the essential ingredients of offence are missing. Since the matter is sub judice I can’t say much. However I’m very keen to argue the case on the framing of charges.”
However, the charge sheet in cricket’s most high-profile match-fixing case says: “…on the basis of statements of the witnesses recorded during the investigation, conversation recorded between the accused in the seized audio and video cassettes, CFSL report and other documentary and oral evidence, it can be safely concluded that some of the matches were fixed and in some, an attempt was made to fix them…”.
The matter is now fixed before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sudhir Kumar Sirohi on July 4 for hearing arguments on charge. The chargesheet also states that there is sufficient evidence to prove that accused “Chawla, Hansie Cronje, Krishan Kumar, Rajesh Kalra, Sunil Dara, and Manmohan Khatter… had entered into a criminal conspiracy to fix the cricket matches played between India and South Africa from February 16, 2000, to March 20, 2000 in India.
“In furtherance of this conspiracy, the 1st Test Match at Mumbai and 1st One-Day International at Cochin were fixed and the same resulted in wrongful gain to the accused and wrongful loss in general to the public at large, who had gone believing that they would perform optimally. The accused persons have thus committed offences punishable under sections 420 and 120B of IPC,” the chargesheet said. The investigators also stated in the chargesheet that they would file a supplementary as investigation with regard to voice sample and specimen handwriting of Chawla is yet to be collected. As per the trial court’s direction, Chawla has already given his handwriting specimen to the investigator.
Late BCCI secretary Lele among witnesses
The Delhi Police in its chargesheet mentions “that cited witnesses may be called through summons”. Featuring in the list of 68 witnesses is former BCCI honorary secretary JY Lele who passed away in 2013. He held the post when the 2000 match-fixing scandal broke.
Mumbai Test, Cochin ODI were fixed: Delhi Police
In the charge sheet filed last month, Delhi Police has made the following remarks about the games played in the much-maligned India-South Africa series of 2000. The tour had seen the Hansie Cronje-led visiting side play two Test matches and five ODIs. In its conclusion, the report says: “…some of the matches were fixed and in some matches an attempt was made to fix them”.
1st Test: Mumbai (Feb 24-28, 2000)
“It was decided that South African team will not score more than 250 runs in an innings. Though the South African team won the Test in three days, this was attributed to a very poor performance by India. The Indian team had batted first and scored 225 and the South African team scored only 176. In the 2nd innings, India scored a mere 113 and the South African team won the match by scoring 164 runs only. Thus, the South African team did not score more than 250 runs in both the innings, as committed by accused Hansie Cronje to the fixers. Thus, this match was a fixed one.”
2nd Test: Bangalore (March 2-6, 2000)
“Though Hansie Cronje had spoken to other players, as per the statements made before the King Commission, this match was not fixed although an attempt was made to fix it.”
1st ODI: Cochin (March 9, 2000)
“Constant calls made to Hamid Cassim by Sanjeev Chawla and Hansie Cronje on the night intervening 8/9.03.2000 further corroborate the statement of Hansie Cronje made before King Commission that he was being regularly pressurised to underperform as per their bidding.”
Hansie: “No, no … They were saying that they were already doing Cochin, the other guys are already angry with me because I have not received their money…”
Sanjeev: “I can deposit the money in your account, it is not a problem … Tomorrow itself I can deposit the money.”
2nd, 3rd, 4th ODIs
“Though the matches were not fixed, it can be inferred that Hansie Cronje helped in giving inside information to the accused persons and helped them in placing bets and earn huge profits.”
“From the recorded conversation, it is evident that Hansie Cronje had agreed to fix the score of the match and he had also agreed to fix the individual score of Herschelle Gibbs. It was also agreed that if the result came as agreed, then Sanjeev Chawla will pay $140000 to Hansie Cronje. Though the players forgot about the deal in the heat of the game and did not agree, it can be concluded that a serious attempt was made to fix the match.”
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