In a sensational twist to the IPL spot-fixing scandal,Delhi Police today said that Sreesanth and two players were acting at the “command” of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and Chota Shakeel,among India’s most wanted criminals,as it invoked the stringent MCOCA against 23 accused in the case.
Police claimed it has “concrete” evidence like intercepted telephonic conversations to link Sreesanth and some others with D-company.
Under MCOCA,the accused face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment along with fine of Rs five lakh.
Police’s disclosure came in a court which extended till June 18 the judicial custody of Sreesanth and 22 others against whom Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) was invoked. A total of 26 people have been arrested by Delhi Police since May 16 in the case.
“Since the accused persons were acting on command of people based abroad like Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar and Chota Shakeel who have a continuous past record of organised crimes,provisions of MCOCA have been invoked against the accused,” police told Additional Sessions Judge Sanjiv Jain.
The court,in its order,referred to the approval granted by Joint Commissioner of Police Special Cell for invoking section 3 and 4 of MCOCA and also a report citing reasons for the same.
“It has been stated that the approval for invoking MCOCA has been accorded by Joint CP (Special Cell) on the premise that the arrested persons/accused through extensive use of electronic and via media were in communication with each other and with their other associates,who are still absconding,including those associates who are based abroad.
“The illegal organised betting syndicate in India is being controlled by persons based abroad. The arrested accused persons have been found playing role of conspirators while others have been found acting as facilitators,” the court quoted from the report.
“This organised crime syndicate besides controlling illegal betting was indulging in fixing performance of players and also the rates of betting,” police told the court.
Under the MCOCA,chargesheet can be filed within a maximum period of 180 days as against 60-90 days under provisions of IPC. The police custody can be extended till 30 days under MCOCA whereas under IPC,it can only be extended for 15 days.
The accused face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment along with fine of Rs 5 lakh under section 3 of MCOCA while the jail term can go up to ten years along with fine of Rs one lakh and properties of the accused can also be attached under section 4.
“There is an organised crime syndicate from the underworld,to bookies,to players,all of them acting in tandem. In this case,force and threats,besides coercion,are used against players and one of the arrested has two cases which the court has taken cognizance of. Also,the accused have gained moneterarily,” a senior police official said.
The official associated with the probe said they had enough telephonic intercepts which showed the bookies had made calls to Dubai,Karachi and other cities of Pakistan to fix and alter betting rates.
Efforts were also underway to nab a Hyderabad-based person who could lead to the door of another cricket team whose players were allegedly involved in spot fixing,he said.
A hunt has been launched for apprehending this person who was named by bookie Mohammed Yahya,arrested in Hyderabad,during his questioning,he said.
In its report to the court,police said Dawood’s syndicate was using musclemen and henchmen like Sheikh Shakeel to threaten people to fall in line with their directives.
It is stated that Chota Shakeel has a past of continuing unlawful activities in an organised manner as defined under MCOCA.
“Keeping in view these facts and the investigation is in progress,all accused persons are remanded to judicial custody till June 18,” the court said.
The accused were earlier booked for cheating,criminal breach of trust and criminal conspiracy.
The court also directed issuance of production warrant for June 10 for Ramesh Vyas,who was arrested in Mumbai,after police said he was in direct contact with Dawood Ibrahim and was handling the betting syndicate in south India.
It asked Mumbai Police to send back accused Ashwani Aggarwal alias Tinku Mandi,a bookie who was handed over to it for interrogation as prosecution said he was controlling the betting in north India and was in touch with Vyas and Dawood.
Earlier,during the arguments,Additional Public Prosecutor Rajiv Mohan said,”The order of the officer of the rank of Jt CP to invoke MCOCA against accused was passed yesterday and a detailed order with reasons has been placed before the court.”
“The command in this case for betting was coming from abroad from people with record of organised crime,” he said.
“The accused were involved with them and were indulging in betting in connivance with them. The money was being generated in India from abroad,” he said.
The defence counsel vehemently opposed invocation of MCOCA saying police has to show that the accused were involved in continuing unlawful activity and claimed that not everything can be connected to D-company and brought under the stringent law.
Sreesanth’s counsel Vishal Gosain and the cricketer’s friend and alleged bookie Jiju Janardhan’s counsel Pawan Narang said MCOCCA is unjustified and has been slapped only to stop their clients from getting bail as some other accused — Vindoo Dara Singh and Chennai Super Kings principal Gurunath Meiyappan,were given bail by a Mumbai court.
Advocate D P Singh,appearing for bookie Chandresh Patel,said,”The players cannot be said to be running organised crime syndicate.”
There are total 26 accused arrested by the Delhi Police in the case,out of which Rajasthan Royals’ Ankeet Chavan is on interim bail till June 6 while Sreesanth’s friend Abhishek Shukla is on regular bail.