IPL fixing allegations May 21, 2013

'I am innocent' - Sreesanth

ESPNcricinfo staff

In his first public statement since his arrest last week, Sreesanth has denied any wrongdoing. Sreesanth and his two Rajasthan Royals team-mates, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila, who were arrested on Thursday for their alleged involvement in spot-fixing, were remanded on Tuesday by a Delhi court to a further five days in police custody.

They were charged by Delhi Police under three laws of the Indian Penal Code: Section 409, which deals with criminal breach of trust and is a non-bailable offence; Section 420 which deals with deal with fraud and cheating; and Section 120B, which deals with deals with criminal conspiracy. The Delhi Police had registered cases against the players under Sections 420 and 120B when they were arrested in the early hours of May 16. The charge under 409 was added to the list following Rajasthan Royals' complaint against the three*.

"I am innocent and have done no wrong," Sreesanth said in a statement emailed by his lawyer, Rebecca John. "I have never indulged in any spot-fixing." He said he was confident that his name would be cleared. "As a cricketer, I have learnt to take knocks along with accolades, in my stride. I recognise that I am going through a tough period in my life. I have utmost faith in our judicial process and I am confident that with time I will be proved innocent, and my honour and dignity will be vindicated and restored."

His statement came on a day when he was first sighted since his arrest, dressed in a blue T-shirt on his way to court.

At the hearing, the police told the court that they were analysing the recorded conversations of players and bookies. Voice samples of the accused had been taken to match them with the recorded conversations. Additional Public Prosecutor Rajiv Mohan told the magistrate that during the investigation several new names had cropped up and their details would be submitted to the court in a sealed cover on Wednesday.

Sreesanth's advocate John opposed the plea for police remand saying no ground was made out for seeking his further custody. She said the agency had made all recoveries and confronted all the accused with one another for the past five days.

The decision to charge the cricketers under Section 409, which carries a maximum punishment of life imprisonment, is seen as unusual as the law applies to a "criminal breach of trust" by anyone considered a "public servant" or "in the way of his business as a banker, merchant, factor, broker, attorney or agent." There were, however, two possible lines of arguments that the law could be applied to cricketers, according to Vidushpat Singhania, sports law expert and principal associate, Lakshmi Kumaran and Sridharan. The first was that, "the player is acting as an agent, in this case of Rajasthan Royals - he has been entrusted with a property under the contract with Rajasthan Royals - and he has breached that trust."

The second argument that could be made was that a player could be considered a public servant because, "he has, in Sreesanth's case for example, represented India and he has again, breached that trust they have in him." In February 2011, the Supreme Court had, for example, upheld a Kerala High Court decision that the state's cricket association officials could in any case, be considered "public servants".

Singhania said should this charge carry through and be upheld by the court, the punishment would be very stringent and could set a precedent in the future for cases involving fraud on the part of athletes, even without the introduction of a new law pertaining to fixing in sport. "There are provisions of criminal law that make it possible for it to be interpreted for the larger public good against a criminal offence."

However, it would appear that the first argument is the one being employed in this case. According to a report in the Hindu, Additional Public Prosecutor Rajiv Mohan said Section 409 was invoked because Sreesanth had violated the terms of his Royals' contract. The contract and its financial benefits, he said, were decided upon as per Sreesanth's "past experience and his match-winning abilities and it was an exclusive contract which granted him playing rights and performing rights, and the agreement did not allow performance for individual gain".

Sreesanth's advocate John countered that he was not entrusted with any property, or with any dominion over property, to be charged under this offence.

In a separate development, Mumbai Police announced it had made three fresh arrests, including that of Virendra Dara Singh Randhawa, also known as Vindoo, the son of famous Indian wrestler Dara Singh.

"The first [arrest] is that of Alpesh Patel, who was a hawala operator connected to these bookies. We have recovered Rs 1.28 crores (US$230,000) in cash from his premises," Himanshu Roy, joint commissioner of police (crime) in Mumbai, said.

"[Vindoo] has also been arrested for links with bookies who have been arrested by us (on Saturday)," Roy said. "The third is Prem Taneja. There are in remand till May 24."

Meanwhile, PTI reports that the government-run Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd suspended Sreesanth, who was employed as an assistant manager in its marketing division and posted at Irumpanam, near Kochi.

04.15GMT, May 22: This article has been updated after details on the charges against the players emerged

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Farhan on May 23, 2013, 13:05 GMT

    @joshua See below what Kapil Siabl, union law minister had to say "I don't think the Indian Penal Code has matchfixing and spot-fixing as an offence and I don't think the 'offence of cheating' is something that adequately deals with issues of spot-fixing and matchfixing," the law minister told reporters.

  • Dummy4 on May 23, 2013, 7:06 GMT

    @Ashwinks you've got it wrong mate. Betting is illegal in India.

  • Dummy4 on May 23, 2013, 6:01 GMT

    Good point. Who the hell is betting on whether Sreeshanth gives 14 runs or more in his 2nd over. Is this even something worth betting on? I am surprised that such random details are being betted on. It's not like it's uncommon for 14 runs to be given in an over, or for Sreesanth to go for 14, but this is some random league game and 14 is common in IPL-land. Strange is spot-fixing.

  • Dummy4 on May 23, 2013, 5:30 GMT

    I feel the whole episode of spot fixing is well scripted. Are bookies stupid enough to lure players like sreeshanth, chandila etc who hardly made any impact in IPL. Sreeshanth has to sit out in many matches. How can we control 10 or 15 runs in a over in T20 matches. Whether it is good or bad ball u might get hammered or get out. I think Sreeshanth was easily got in to the groove for his past attitude and character. This really helped the scriptwriters much needed advantage. When he was at the point blank, his past doings were justified. But it is not good to tarnish an international cricketer only because of aggressive attitude. Authorities should have adopted a better plan to expose the truth and the bad game plan rather than rushing and ruining 3 youngsters when our so called old politicians are sitting happily with all the allegations and corruptions..

  • Farhan on May 22, 2013, 20:48 GMT

    Spot fixing is not a crime under Indian Panel Code...breach of contract could be the only crime committed here. It does not warrant jail and all sorts of inquiries and charges as if Sreesanth is a hardcore criminal. Very unfair indeed.

  • Harmon on May 22, 2013, 16:34 GMT

    Guys I don't know if Sree is innocent or not but what I find very abhorrent is the way Indian Media is depicting this whole scenario. Cos Sree is the more famous one almost the entire coverage is focused on him. Just about everything related to Sree is being shown AS IF they all are related to this spot fixing issue. Tell me, which guy won't have pics of female models in his laptop? What exactly is objectionable if Sree was with 2 women in his car? Can't they just be friends? What is wrong if Sree used to enjoy living in 5 star hotels and partying there? What is the problem if he is fond of shopping and wearing clothes worth thousands?

    WE ALL WANT THAT, almost all of us.

    Poisoning the well is an extremely dangerous fallacy. It sometimes makes an innocent guilty in the public eye and often exaggerates whatever the guilt is, big or small.

    I was never a fan of Sree but guilty or not the media here has already ruined his reputation for ever.

    Long live Indian Media .... NOT.

  • Ashwin on May 22, 2013, 16:09 GMT

    @Aksh83, its not illegal to bet against players.. people do that allt he time, and am sure people bet against all the players, not just these 3. The players cooperating with the bookies to help one side win the bet is what is illegal. Thats the breach of trust.

  • Mahendran on May 22, 2013, 15:49 GMT

    So after all this hoopla about the spot-fixing allegations against Sreesanth, here is the evidence the Delhi police has against him 1. He did some stretching exercise and had a towel in his pocket in an over where he should have given up 14 runs but could only make 13. 2. His name was mentioned by his 'associate' Jiju in his talks with a bookie. Unlike the first fixing scandal in 2000 where the police release the transcripts of Hanse talking to the bookies on day one, here we have no such evidence. 3. The police claim that Sreesanth had a teary confession. But have they produced any video of that or any written confession statement signed by that guy ? No. 4. The crucial evidence is the money trail. They claim Sreesanth received 40 - 60 lakhs. They were able to find 20 lakhs from one cricketer but they were still unable to find the 40 - 60 lakhs from him. 5. Now they claim that he spend lavishly before the match but the amount they say he spend is not close to amount they claim he got.

  • Alex on May 22, 2013, 15:35 GMT

    If they have recording of what he was intend to do in game and follow through it with it. All need to be video. If not there is no case. I think sreesanth was involved issue is do Delhi Police has the video and audio? Sreesanth confession is baloney. Anyone will confess if you threaten him. For me sreesanth is guilty but you have to prove in court other than his supposed confession in prison. May delhi police worked for sreesanth enemies. We all know BCCI chief do not like rajastan royals.