Delhi police authorities Thursday brought bookie Sanjeev Chawla to India from the UK, after legal formalities for his extradition were completed. Over the past two months, a Delhi Police Crime Branch team had attended several court hearings in the extradition case.
Chawla is a key accused in the 2000 match-fixing case involving late South African captain Hansie Cronje, considered among the biggest such scandals in cricket.
Explained: The match-fixing scandal Sanjeev Chawla is accused in
The scandal first came to light in April 2000. The Delhi Police intercepted a conversation between the blacklisted bookie Chawla and Cronje, in which it was learnt that the South African captain had accepted money to lose matches.
A top international player, that too a national captain, caught on tape sharing match information with a member of an illegal betting syndicate sent shockwaves through the world of cricket, forcing authorities across countries to probe corruption among players.
In India, a CBI investigation led to life bans on Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Sharma, and a five-year ban on Ajay Jadeja. All the bans were later overturned by various courts.
In South Africa, a probe resulted in Cronje getting banned for life, and Herschelle Gibbs for six months.
Timeline of the Chawla case
Chawla, a key conspirator in the match-fixing case, managed to flee from India to the UK in 2000. His Indian passport was revoked that year, and he obtained a British passport in 2005.
In July 2013, Delhi Police filed a 70-page chargesheet in the scandal, naming Chawla and Cronje (the latter had died in a plane crash in June 2002). The two were accused by the crime branch of “fixing matches played between India and South Africa from February 16, 2000 to March 20, 2000 in India”. Chawla was also accused of offering money to two England players in August 1999.
On June 14, 2016, Chawla was arrested in London following India’s request for his extradition, and UK officials then asked the Delhi Police for details of security arrangements and facilities in the jail he would be kept in. This was done after Chawla raised several questions about security and facilities in Indian jails.
In 2017, Chawla won a case at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court, which concluded that there was a prima facie case to answer, but his human rights could not be guaranteed in Tihar jail, where he was to be held.
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Then in November 2018, the UK High Court quashed the lower court’s order, convinced by the Indian government’s assurances on prison conditions at Tihar, and directed the District Judge to re-start the extradition proceedings.
In January 2019, the magistrates’ court issued a fresh order in favour of Chawla’s extradition. A month later, former UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid signed off the order under the India-UK Extradition Treaty.
Chawla then filed an appeal against the extradition order in the UK High Court, which was turned down in January 2020. He was finally put into the custody of the Delhi police on Wednesday, who brought him to India the next day.
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