Saturday, April 29, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

CBI to probe match-fixing
Tribune News Service and agencies

NEW DELHI, April 28 — The Centre today decided to entrust the issue of match-fixing in Indian cricket to the Central Bureau of Investigation while allowing the Delhi police to carry on the probe in the case against former South African skipper Hansie Cronje and others.

The decision of the Centre was announced by the Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, in Parliament, a day after he held an meeting with cricketers and cricket administrators here.

In an identical statement in both Houses, Mr Dhindsa said that ‘keeping in view the sentiments expressed by the members in both Houses of Parliament, the sensitivity of the case and the complexities involved, as also the issue of jurisdiction, the government has decided to entrust this matter to the CBI’’.

The minister said he hoped that this inquiry will clear the air of rumours and suspicion surrounding this subject. He said the government believed that those who were guilty must be punished, those innocent must not be slandered, those who had evidence must cooperate, promised adequate protection and “those who make ill-founded allegations must be exposed’’.

Referring to his earlier statement after a debate in Parliament, Mr Dhindsa said even then he had mentioned that the government would not hesitate to initiate an inquiry in the matter of match-fixing by any agency of the government.

He said on the basis of several news items in prominent magazines and newspapers of the country, as also the statement of prominent cricket administrators and players, there was a need to inquire into the matter further.

In the Rajya Sabha, responding to clarifications by members he said the inquiry would be broadbased and would also look into the allegations of Doordarshan deliberately foragoing its telecast rights of cricket matches.

Later speaking to correspondents at the National Stadium, Mr Dhindsa urged all players, past and present to provide all information they had regarding match-fixing in India to the CBI and said the government would provide protection to those who would give information.

Meanwhile, Mr Dhindsa clarified that the CBI probe will be independent of the Delhi police investigation already under way into the Hansie Cronje affair.

“The CBI inquiry will be different from the one being conducted by Delhi police. The CBI will look into allegations of match-fixing in Indian cricket while the Delhi police is investigating the Cronje affair. They are both separate,” Mr Dhindsa, who made the probe announcement earlier in the Lok Sabha, told reporters.

He ruled out setting any time-frame for completion of the probe and said it would be extensive. “But we would like it to be completed at the earliest,” he said.

Meanwhile, BCCI chief, A.C. Muthiah today said the CBI probe into match-fixing allegations in cricket was in keeping with the board’s demand and hoped the Sports Minister would fix a time-frame for the investigations to be completed.

Welcoming the government decision announced today, Mr Muthiah said the BCCI’s demand at the meeting called by Mr Dhindsa in New Delhi yesterday was also for the CBI to conduct the probe.

“BCCI’s demand in the meeting was a CBI inquiry and I had pledged at the meeting to the minister that the BCCI would cooperate to the hilt with the government and its agency inquiring into the allegations. We want to put an end to these (allegations),” he said in Chennai.

“I also welcome the minister’s statement in Parliament that “those who make ill-founded allegations must be exposed,” Mr Muthiah said.

He said fixing a time-frame to the inquiry would help bring culprits to the book speedily and also enable the players perform without any pressure.

“I hope the minister would fix a time-frame for the CBI inquiry soon as it would help bring the culprits to book and relieve the innocents sooner and also get the cloud over the issue cleared.

“Above all, a time frame would give our players the freedom and strength to perform to their potential uninhibitedly,” he added.

The cricket board secretary, Mr Jaywant Lele, called for an early completion of the CBI probe into allegations of betting and match-fixing in Indian cricket ordered by the government and also pledged full cooperation by the board to the central investigating agency.

“It is good (the decision). We have no problem. We will give full cooperation to the agency. The earlier the probe is completed the better,” Lele said from Baroda.

The BCCI secretary was among those who attended the meeting called by Mr Dhindsa in New Delhi yesterday.

The International Cricket Council President, Mr Jagmohan Dalmiya, speaking from Calcutta welcomed the CBI probe ordered into match-fixing allegations in Indian cricket, saying it was necessary to protect the image of the game.

“I welcome this. I myself had proposed a CBI inquiry during the meeting with the Sports Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, yesterday,” Mr Dalmiya told PTI when contacted.

He said the CBI enjoyed “public goodwill” and there was a general perception that the agency maintained an independent and impartial approach which was “necessary at the moment to restore the image of the game”.

“The sports loving public has felt let down” after the exposure of the match-fixing scandal involving sacked South African skipper Hansie Cronje earlier this month. “It (public) should not bear any feeling that whatever inquiry is being conducted is eyewash”, Mr Dalmiya said.

“Public confidence in the game has to be restored” and since the CBI enjoyed goodwill, any outcome from this inquiry would be widely accepted, the ICC chief said.

The BCCI joint secretary, Mr Jyoti Bajpai, also welcomed the government’s decision to conduct a CBI inquiry into the match-fixing episode.

“If CBI can be helpful in the larger interest of the game, it should be welcomed,’’ he added.

However, Mr R.N. Chaturvedi, secretary of India Veterans Cricket Board, expressed his reservation about the CBI inquiry, saying it would demoralise the players.

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