Indian ministers pursue law against fixing in sports
India's union law minister, Kapil Sibal, is keen on the central government drawing up legislation that makes spot or match-fixing a criminal offence in the country. Sibal has consulted with Jitendra Singh, the sports minister, about the same, and hopes the bill will be finalised and introduced in Parliament at the earliest.
"You have to have a separate definition and a separate law, which makes match-fixing or spot-fixing an offence, a criminal offence, and have separate provisions dealing with the punishment and trial. Of course the criminal procedure code will apply," Sibal told news channel NDTV*. "That law is being contemplated and when broad contours of the law are ready, and this will be done in collaboration with the sports ministry, then sports ministry will carry it to Parliament."
The development comes in wake of the allegations of spot-fixing in the IPL, over which three Rajasthan Royals players - including Test cricketer Sreesanth - were arrested last week. The players were charged under sections 420 (cheating) and 120B (criminal conspiracy), and later section 409 (criminal breach of trust), of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Sibal said past instances of fixing in India, where attempts to prosecute the perpetrators failed due to lack of legislation dealing solely with the issue, proved it was necessary to work on such a law. "The present provisions of the IPC don't allow prosecution for match-fixing as it is not an offence," he told Indian Express newspaper. "The nearest provision under which a player or someone who indulges in match-fixing or spot-fixing can be booked is Section 420 of the IPC, which deals with cheating or fraud.
"However, past experience of using this provision of IPC has not been very good, since many previous attempts to prosecute the accused have failed. That is why it is necessary to come up with a special enactment to deal with this."
Indian cricket has had two other instances of bans being handed out for corruption. Last year five domestic players were banned by the BCCI - for periods ranging between one year and life - for allegedly being involved in match-fixing, and negotiating for extra and illegal pay. Before that, there was the high profile match-fixing saga of 2000, following which former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin was handed a life ban and batsman Ajay Jadeja was banned for five years among others. Jadeja's ban was overturned by the Delhi High Court in January 2003, the court ruling that there was no proof of his guilt. In November last year, the Andhra Pradesh High Court declared the BCCI's life ban on Azharuddin to be illegal. The bans were the only penalty meted out to these players, with none of them being prosecuted in a court of law on the fixing charges.
* May 20 4.00pm This story has been updated with fresh Kapil Sibal quotes