Thursday, November 2, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Azhar, Ajay Sharma may be prosecuted
From R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Nov 1 — The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which has indicted five Indian players for match-fixing and betting, has expressed its inability to prosecute them under the Indian Penal Code. However, legal experts differed with the views of the agency and said a clear case of cheating, criminal conspiracy and gambling was made out.

The CBI, however, said a case of criminal misconduct under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, could be registered against former Indian captain Mohammed Azharuddin and former Delhi captain Ajay Sharma as they were public servants.

The agency said it would await the report of the income tax authority to know whether the players had assets disproportionate to their known sources of income. Sources in the IT department told The Tribune that some of the players had been found to have assets disproportionate to their known sources of income. However the exact picture would emerge when the appraisal report was finalised by the end of this month.

Sources said Kapil Dev, Ajay Jadeja, Manoj Prabhakar, Nikhil Chopra and Ajay Sharma had evaded income tax and had concealed income earned though ‘dubious sources’. The IT sources, however, refrained from linking the indictment to match-fixing or betting.

The CBI said its investigation against Indian and foreign players indicted in the report would continue. “Certain other leads, which require verification have emerged during the enquiry and the enquiry will continue. There is also a possibility of more evidence being unearthed with regard to some of the players against whom allegations of match-fixing and related malpractices are already established,” the agency said.

The investigating agency sought the legal opinion of former Supreme Court Judge, Mr Manoj Kumar Mukherjee, and the Solicitor-General of India, Mr Harish Salve, before submitting the report to the Union Sports Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa on Monday.

Justice Mukherjee said “it is difficult to hold on the basis of the material collected during inquiry, that a case of cheating has been made out. There is no material evidence from which it can be said, even prima facie, that the delinquent players induced the BCCI to select them, by practising deceit.”

The former apex court judge concluded that “punishment for the offence under the Public Gambling Act, 1867, is lenient and is not at all commensurate with the magnitude of the crime.”

Mr Harish Salve observed that “no criminal charges under cheating or under the Gambling Act can be filed against anyone because of the nebulous position of law in this regard, as well as the improbability of the investigating agency being able to obtain sufficient legal evidence.”

When contacted by The Tribune, for an independent opinion of the case, the noted criminal lawyers, Mr R.K. Anand, said: “A clear case of cheating and gambling is made out against the five Indian players named by the CBI.”

“It is up to the CBI to bring out the facts and evidence to prosecute them. The facts so far known through the media reports indicate that there is enough evidence to initiate prosecution against them,” he said.

An Additional Solicitor-General, who did not wished to be identified, however, differed with the views of Mr Anand. He said the “basic ingredients of cheating as per the provision of law is not made out. Even if they are prosecuted for gambling, it would be difficult to prove the offence.”

“The law appear to be helpless before these cricketers and have tied the hands of the prosecution to initiate punitive action under the IPC,” he added. The CBI said “an offence under Section 13 (1) (d) (i) and (iii) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, can be registered against the two players Mohammed Azharuddin and Ajay Sharma) answering the definition of public servants.”

“However, looking at the issue in its totality, the question of registration of a case under the aforesaid section of the PC Act is under evaluation,” the CBI said.

While Azharuddin in working for the State Bank of India, Ajay Sharma is working for the Central Warehousing Corporation.

The Additional Solicitor General said the provisions of criminal misconduct, which the CBI says is made out, cannot be applicable to the two players as they have not abused their position as public servants.

However, Mr Anand differed with this view and observed that the definition of public servants covers a wide ambit and they can be prosecuted.

The Central Vigilance Commissioner, Mr N. Vittal, said the government should examine whether the two cricketers could be prosecuted under the PC Act.

“Incidentally the government does not have any Ministry of Cricket, I am told the government will examine the CBI report, it should also examine whether cricketers employed with banks and PSUs and tainted by the CBI fall under the provisions of PC Act,” he said.


Azhar received 90 lakh from bookie
From Our Sports Reporter

NEW DELHI, Nov 1—Former Indian cricket captain Mohammad Azharuddin is reported to have received around Rs 90 lakh from bookie Mukesh Gupta during their association from 1995 to 1997 for fixing matches.

The 162-page Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) report on “cricket match fixing and related malpractices”, which was officially released here today by the Union Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, has severely indicted the role played by the former Indian captain in the sensational match-fixing scandal.

The report reveals that “Azharuddin was paid a sum of Rs 50 lakh as an advance with the arrangement that the initial amount would be adjusted against the matches he would ‘do’ for MK (Mukesh Gupta), and Azharuddin promised MK that he would provide the exact information as to when India would win or lose”.

Ajay Sharma had reportedly introduced Azharuddin to bookie Mukesh Gupta at the Taj Palace Hotel in 1995, and Ajay Sharma was paid a sum of Rs 5 lakh for arranging this meeting. “Azharuddin agreed to ‘do’ some match for him in the Titan Cup series (around 1996) but Azhar’s information proved incorrect, and even the agreement that India would lose the final to South Africa did not materialise, and MK and Anil Steel (MK’s associate) incurred heavy losses and were almost broke”, the report says, linking Azhar to the bookies.

Azharuddin was then requested to “make up for the losses and Azhar promised him (MK) that he would make up for the losses”.

“Accordingly, MK went to Ahmedabad during the first Test between India and South Africa where he was introduced to Dr Ali Irani (physio of the Indian team) by Azharuddin, who also promised that Azhar would compensate for his losses. Azhar told M K to make future payments through Dr Ali Irani”, the bookie has told the CBI.

India won the Ahmedabad Test and “MK recovered around 30 per cent of his losses, and in the second Test at Calcutta, Azahruddin informed him that India would lose the Test and the result was on similar lines, and MK made up around 60 per cent of his losses”.

The report says South African captain Hansie Cronje was introduced to MK by Azhar during the third Test at Kanpur as “a diamond merchant, and Hansie Cronje told MK that South Africa would lose the Test, and M K paid a sum of $ 40,000 to Hansie Cronje for this information as a future investment” though Cronje did not oblige him in the Mohinder Amarnath benefit match in Bombay.

Around this time, Ajay Sharma had introduced Ajay Jadeja also to MK at his residence in Delhi’s Defence Colony, and “Ajay Jadeja offered to ‘do’ some matches for him”, though he could promise a “tie up” only with Nayan Mongia in the Indian team.

The bookie is alleged to have paid Azhar Rs 10 lakh during India’s tour of South Africa in 1996, and also paid Rs 5 lakh to Dr Ali Irani, though “at this point of time, Azhar’s predictions were not proving correct”.

But after coming back from South Africa, Azharuddin promised MK that he would “do” some matches for him during the Sahara Cup Tournament in Toronto in 1977, “and that his wife Sangita Bijalani would ring him up and provide the necessary information”.

But Sangita’s “predictions” turned out to be incorrect “and MK got the feeling that the couple were misguiding him”. However, a few months after the Sahara Cup, MK asked Azhar to return some of his money since his information had proved “useless” and recovered around Rs 30 lakh in instalments from Azhar which he collected from Azhar’s locker at Taj Palace Hotel in Delhi through one Anil Saxena, an employee of the hotel, who was a close friend of Azhar and also from Ajay Sharma who had come to deposit some money in the same locker.

MK is reported to have revealed that Azharuddin had a permanent locker at the Taj Hotel, and used to operate it through Anil Saxena, who had the keys. According to another bookie Anil Steele, on two occasions he had made payments of around Rs 20-25 lakh on MK’s behalf to Dr Ali Irani at Nanavati Hospital in Bombay, which was “meant for Azharuddin for the information provided by him”.

Giving further damning information on Azhar’s activities, the CBI report says the India-Pakistan one-day match in 1999 at Jaipur was “fixed” through Azhar, and before that, in July, 1998, Azhar had agreed to lose certain matches in a series in Sri Lanka as part of a “deal” with another Delhi-based bookie, Ajay Gupta and party, but since those matches were won by India, “Ajay Gupta and party lost a lot of money”. Ajay Gupta and party had reportedly paid about Rs 25 lakh to Azhar, and he had also made some payments towards Azharuddin’s stay at the Taj Palace hotel.

Sachin Tendulkar, the batting maestro, told the CBI that during his tenure “Mohd Azharuddin was not putting in 100 per cent effort, and he suspected that Azhar was involved with some bookies”.

According to former Board president I S Bindra’s testimony, “Ajay Jadeja had brought a bookie to meet Azharuddin in the dressing room in 1994-95 at Sharjah and when reporters came to know of this, they tried to photograph the bookie with the players, and their efforts were blocked by Jadeja and Azharuddin, and the bookie was sent out in a hurry”.

Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) sports secretary Sunil Dev told the CBI that “he suspected Ajay Sharma due to his proximity with Azharuddin as Ajay Sharma was seen at many places with Azharuddin during matches, and was also available to Azharuddin on the telephone”.

Ajay Sharma has stated that on one occasion, he had collected Rs 15 lakh from Ajay Gupta on Azharuddin’s behalf, and deposited the money in the locker of Azhar at the Taj Palace hotel.

The CBI report says “Azharuddin contributed substantially towards the expanding bookie-player nexus in Indian cricket, and he received large sums of money from betting syndicates to fix matches”.

There is also evidence that Azhar roped in other players to fix matches, which resulted in this malaise making further inroads into Indian cricket. Azharuddin, in his testimony, has accepted receiving money from MK to fix matches, but has stated that he ‘did’ only two matches for him — Titan Cup match in 1996 at Rajkot and ‘some’ match in the Pepsi Asia Cup in Sri Lanka in 1977.

The following is the list of bookies and punters named in the CBI report


Mukesh Kumar Gupta alias MK alias John, C-538, Defence Colony, Delhi.

Anil Steel, 312, Luxmichand House, Ist Floor, Telung Road, Matunga, Mumbai.

Anand Saxena, 3562, Gali Than Singh, Sita Ram Bazar, Delhi and D-84, Defence Colony, New Delhi.

Shobhan Mehta, 1503 and 1504, Deepak Jyoti Building, Kala Choki, Mumbai-33.

Uttam Chand, 1145, North Usman Road, First Floor, T. Nagar, Chennai.

Naveen Sachdeva, alias Tinkoo, 41/7, 2nd Floor, Punjabi Bagh (East), Delhi.

Deepak Rajouri, A-120, Vishal Enclave, Delhi-27.

Sanjeev Sacher alias Babloo, 18/18-A, Moti Nagar, New Delhi.


Ajay Gupta, 41, Rajpur Road, Civil Lines, Delhi.

Ameesh Gupta, 34/1, East Punjabi Bagh, Delhi.

Gyan Gupta, 34/1, East Punjabi Bagh, Delhi

Nishit Goyal, 8/3, Ram Kishore Road, Civil Lines, Delhi.

Sanjeev Kohli alias Tipu Kohli, D-14, South Extension, Part -II, Delhi.

Rattan Mehta, W-38, Panchsheel Enclave, IInd floor, Delhi and A-13/8, Vasant Vihar, Delhi.

Rawan Puri, Puri Farm House, Mehrauli, Gurgaon Road, Delhi.

Sanjay Anand, 1-33, Kirti Nagar, Delhi.

Rajesh Kalra, S-252, Ist floor, Greater Kailash, Part-II, Delhi.



Rajghat venue to ‘fix’ pitches: CBI

NEW DELHI, Nov 1 (PTI) —Rajghat, samadhi of Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi, was the venue for bribing a groundsman to prepare a tailor-made pitch as per the instructions of a bookie for a Test match between India and Australia in 1996, CBI said in its probe report.

Ram Adhar, working as groundsman at Ferozeshah Kotla, was contacted by Ajay Sharma 3 or 4 days before the match and told him to meet at Rajghat, the report said.

Adhar, in his testimony before CBI, said he met Sharma and another person on the appointed day, where he was paid Rs 50,000 by Sharma “to prepare the pitch in such a way that it was result oriented.”

“Accordingly, he had prepared the pitch and the Test match concluded in just three and half days,” CBI said.

Bookie MK Gupta, the probe report said, has stated that “he got a result-oriented pitch prepared in connivance with Ajay Sharma and Ram Adhar.

“Sharma concedes that he received Rs 3 lakhs from MK for this arrangement and he paid Rs 50,000 to Adhar,” the report added.Back


Jadeja manhandles photographer

JAMMU, Nov 1 (UNI) — A visibly angry Ajay Jadeja, indicted in a CBI report on match-fixing, manhandled a photographer today at the Maulana Azad Memorial (MAM) Stadium where Jammu and Kashmir are playing against Haryana in a North Zone Ranji Trophy match.

Jadeja, leading hosts J and K, was reticent and had declined to comment to the media on the CBI’s findings, made public today, the third day of the Ranji Trophy match.

Jadeja yesterday had tersely said that he was innocent and the law will take its own course.

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