Tuesday, October 31, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

CBI names Jadeja, Azharuddin, Prabhakar
Dhindsa given match-fixing report
Tribune News Service and agencies

NEW DELHI, Oct 30 — The CBI has indicated five cricketers, including former captains Mohammed Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja and former all-rounder Manoj Prabhakar, in its lengthy inquiry report, presented to the government today, reliable sources said.

The cricketers are understood to have been charged with indulging in match-fixing and betting in cricket.

The sources said that besides Azhar, Jadeja and Prabhakar, the 162-page report has also found former Delhi Captain Ajay Sharma guilty of wrong practices in the game. The name of the fifth cricketer was not known.

Prabhakar is a name which may surprise many as it was he who blew the whistle of match-fixing, charging former Indian coach Kapil Dev of offering him a bribe of Rs 25 lakh to throw a one-day international against Pakistan in Sri Lanka in 1994.

Former team physiotherapist Ali Irani has also been found involved in match-fixing.

The report was submitted to the Sports Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, this afternoon.

However, sources said despite these proofs those indicted could not be prosecuted under the Prevention of Corruption Act as they were not public servants.

The report also names some foreign players who the bookies, questioned by the agency, alleged had been involved in match-fixing.

They include a Pakistani, three Australians, two West Indians and an English player.

These foreign players include former Pakistani cricket captain Salim Malik and disgraced South African skipper Hansie Cronje.

The CBI team, led by Joint Director Ravindra Nath Sawani and including DIG Y.P. Singh and Mr M.A. Ganapathi, submitted the 160-page report in two sealed envelopes to Mr Dhindsa at his Shastri Bhavan office, in the presence of Secretary, Department of Sports, Mr N.N. Khanna.

Mr Dhindsa said he would comment on the contents of the report after going through it, “and if necessary legal opinion will be sought, before acting upon the report”. Mr Dhindsa had earlier said that he would table the report first in Parliament, before making it public.

Virtual pandemonium prevailed at the corridors of the Sports Minister’s chamber as a large number of lensmen and electronic media persons had gathered there since morning, though Mr Dhindsa, who had returned to the Capital from Chandigarh only last night, had no inkling when the CBI team would submit the report.

But when the three-member CBI team finally turned up around 2.45 pm, hell broke loose as the media people jostled with each other to have a first hand reaction of Mr Dhindsa.

The CBI had postponed the submission of the report, which has reportedly implicated former Indian captain Mohd Azharuddin, star players Manoj Prabhakar, Ajay Jadeja, and Ajay Sharma, for their alleged involvement in the match-fixing scandal, four times in the past one month.

The report was submitted today only after the final clearance from the CBI Director, Mr R.K. Raghavan, who left for Athens (Greece) to attend the 69th annual conference of Interpol.

Mr Sawani said as far as the CBI was concerned, this was the final report “as we have already completed our inquiry, but if any further information comes to our notice, we will take cognizance.”

Asked whether the CBI would initiate legal action against those players, administrators and others found involved in the scandal, Mr Sawani said the agency would await orders of the Government.

He also clarified that the agency had not filed any FIR (First Information Report) as the future course of action would depend on the Government’s direction.

The CBI Joint Director, in-charge of the Special Crime Branch, offered no comments when asked whether the investigators faced any hurdles or political pressure during the probe.

The match-fixing scandal had come to the fore on April 7 this year, when the Delhi Police intercepted an alleged taped conversation between the then South African cricket captain Hansie Cronje and a London-based Indian businessman Sanjeev Chawla, who allegedly had links with several bookies, involved in match-fixing.

The police then arrested an alleged bookie, Rajesh Kalra, which resulted in the opening up of a Pandora’s Box about the shady dealings in match-fixing, which pointed accusing fingers on many present and past star cricketers, and top cricket officials.

As the controversy grew thick and fast with allegations thrown back and forth against top players and officials, the Centre asked the premier investigating agency to probe the entire gamut of the match-fixing scandal, and submit a report to the Government.

Even the South African Government ordered the King’s Commission probe to find out the involvement of its cricketers in the scandal. The Commission has since recorded the statements of Hansie Cronje and three other South African cricketers, who admitted before the Commission to have accepted money to under-perform during a few one-day internationals against India.


Oil price rollback skipped
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Oct 30 — The much-hyped issue of reviewing the oil price hike by the Centre came a cropper as the main demand of the Trinamool Congress was not even discussed at today’s Union Cabinet meeting, the first following the Prime Minister’s return after his knee surgery from Mumbai.

The Trinamool Congress leader and Railways Minister, Ms Mamata Banerjee, was present at the meeting but she did not raise the issue of a rollback, the Cabinet spokesperson and Union Minister, Mr Pramod Mahajan, said after the meeting.

“The issue did not figure formally or informally at the Cabinet meeting”, Mr Mahajan said. Ms Banerjee confirmed that the issue did not come up for discussion.

She told newspersons after the meeting that she had written another letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, reminding him about her party’s demand for a rollback in the oil prices. Mr Vajpayee had assured the Trinamool Congress leader that he would review the prices after his return from Mumbai.

Ms Banerjee said she had given suggestions to the Prime Minister on the issue and indicated that she had left the decision to Mr Vajpayee.

When asked about Ms Banerjee’s claim, the Cabinet spokesperson said he had no idea whether she had given any letter to the Prime Minister. “It is not in my knowledge if she met the Prime Minister separately”, he added.

It may be pointed out that the Prime Minister’s assurance had come at a time when OPEC nations had announced an increase in oil production and the USA had decided to dip into its oil reserves to stabilise the prices in the oil market. It was expected that oil prices would stabilise below the $ 30 a barrel level and the government would be able to announce a partial rollback.

However, the increase announced by the OPEC failed to satisfy the market as the winter demand from European countries overwhelmed the supply position. As a result, oil prices have been around the $ 35 a barrel range, putting a huge burden on the country’s foreign exchange reserves.

The Petroleum Minister, Mr Ram Naik, said any decrease in the domestic oil prices would have to be met with another cut in duty rates or else oil companies would not be able to bear the burden.

Meanwhile, it was decided at the Union Cabinet meeting that the government would introduce a Bill in the winter session of Parliament to repeal 21 obsolete Acts, including one dating back to 1856.

Mr Mahajan told reporters after the meeting today that the acts had become redundant for various reasons and were being removed from the statute book as part of the administrative reforms process.

The decision to repeal these acts follows recommendations of the Commission on Review of Administrative Laws, chaired by Mr P.C. Jain, to make the statute book more brief.

The Acts to be repealed include the Civil Courts Amins Act, 1856, Bombay High Court (Letters Patent) Act, 1866. Unclaimed Deposits Acts, 1866, Unclaimed Deposits Acts, 1870, and the Acting Judges Act, 1867.Back

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