Saturday, December 23, 2000,
Chandigarh, India






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Cricketers may lose Arjuna awards
15-day notice to Azhar, Ajay, Manoj

NEW DELHI, Dec 22 (UNI) the government may withdraw the Arjuna Awards given to cricketers Mohammad Azharuddin, Manoj Prabhakar and Ajay Jadeja, who have been banned from playing cricket, the Minister for Sports, Ms Uma Bharti, told the Rajya Sabha today.

Replying to Mr Sanjay Nirupam during question hour, the minister said these players had been served a 15-day notice to ascertain their viewpoint in view of the CBI inquiry report and the BCCI decision to ban them from playing cricket.

She said the government wanted to give opportunity to these players to air their viewpoint before taking a final decision.

Azharuddin has been banned from playing cricket for life and Jadeja for five years.

Ms Bharti said her ministry had written to the Law Ministry seeking its view on action that could be taken against the three players and Ajay Sharma, the fourth cricketer indicted by the CBI.

The Law Ministry was of the view that Azharuddin and Ajay Sharma could be proceeded against under the Anti-corruption Act if they had any role as public servants.

She said her ministry had also sought the view of the Law Department if any law could be enacted to prevent match-fixing in future.

Match-fixing was nothing but a conspiracy against the country, she said.

Ms Bharti said the government did not want injustice to be done to anybody. Hence, it was giving an opportunity to the tainted players to air their viewpoints.

She said the CBI report had covered almost all possible angles.

She said the Mumbai police was free to proceed against Azharuddin if it had evidence and no clearance from the Centre was required.

The states were free to act against the players under anti-gambling laws as they were the competent to execute the law, she added.

Responding to a supplementary of Mr Ram Gopal Yadav, the minister said the Law Ministry had been asked about the practical and legal aspects of one or two players throwing matches as confessed by Azharuddin before the CBI.

Mr Kapil Sibal argued that any confession before a police official was not an admissible evidence in the court and Azharuddin had denied having told anything to the CBI.

Asked about the possibility of the government reducing the number of one-day matches to bring back glory to the game, Ms Bharti said the BCCI was an autonomous body and free to take its own decision.

Mr Nirupam wanted to know what had prevented the authorities from arresting Azharuddin since he had confessed his role in match-fixing.

He said the Mumbai police had evidence against the player and his Dubai bank accounts.

He said he had no doubt about the cricketing talent of the former Indian skipper. But he should be arrested as he was the only one to confess to the crime, Mr Nirupam said, attracting criticism from other members.

Mr Ram Gopal Yadav and Sangh Priya Gautam were sceptical. Mr Yadav wondered if it was possible for a single player to fix matches.Back

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