Bangladesh news June 6, 2013

Legal loophole may give Ashraful lifeline

Mohammad Ashraful's confession of his involvement in match-fixing in the Bangladesh Premier League has led to confusion over whether it amounts to a criminal offense. There are mixed opinions over whether and how to prosecute Ashraful since there are no specific laws on fixing in Bangladesh's legal system.

Some believe that the case is quite straightforward as he has "cheated", which is a clear violation of the law of the land. Others, however, point towards a vacuum of laws, i.e. that the existing laws are not strong enough to charge him.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) of Bangladesh has, according to the Dhaka-based The Daily Star, only discussed the controversy informally. The commission is following the developments and is still mulling whether or not to get involved since the Bangladesh Cricket Board itself is considered a regulatory body.

The ACC chairman Golam Rahman has said that he is not in favour of being involved in the fixing issue. "There is a regulatory authority and that's the [Bangladesh] cricket board," he said.

"The authority should play its due role. If we interfere in everything, then the other authorities will become dysfunctional. However, if the BCB fails to act then we will think of getting involved."

Criminal law expert ABM Sharfuddin Mukul said that a law is in place for every corrupt practice. "The rules state that he is not supposed to be involved in fixing, but he has done so. He has cheated for his personal benefit. This is a violation of the law.

"So in a broader sense, a charge can be made based on Section 420 (which deals with cheating and dishonesty) of the penal code. He has violated the rules of the tournament so a police or the victim can file a case. If he has done anything wrong while sporting the national jersey, any cricket fan who feels cheated can file a charge against him as well."

The Delhi Police had also initially registered the cases against the three Rajasthan Royals players (Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan, Ajit Chandila) under the Indian Penal Code section 420 and 120B, which, similar to Bangladesh's section 420, deals with fraud, cheating and criminal conspiracy.

According to another senior lawyer, the current laws in Bangladesh are not modernized enough to deal with the problem. "There isn't an exact law against fixing in this country. I don't think that section 420 and 406 can be interpreted in that way that many lawyers are doing it in the case of Ashraful. The nature of crime is changing and we require newer laws," said barrister Mahbub Shafique.

High-ups in the BCB also fear a fan backlash, where a member of the public could file a lawsuit against Ashraful. But, as Rahman had stated, if the BCB acts on it appropriately, there will be little room to build a criminal case against the former Bangladesh captain.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here