Making match-fixing a criminal offence will help curb the corruption menace, Arun Dhumal, the cricket board treasurer, observed.
His comment came in the wake of the KPL-gate that so far has seen seven arrests by the Bangalore Police, including an IPL regular like CM Gautam, for their alleged involvement in betting / fixing in the Karnataka Premier League.
This is for the first time a BCCI office-bearer expressed his views on the alleged corruption incidents in the T20 leagues organised by the state associations.
“That’s the problem. We don’t have a law against match-fixing/spot fixing. The Lodha reforms did nothing, so to say, on this. They had taken a view on everything. They should have put their mind to this also, what needs to be done.
Traditionally the BCCI has taken a strong position on those who have been involved in this (corruption). But through the judicial process, punishments got relaxed. The BCCI had a stronger view on the basis of our inquiry (against the accused) vis-à-vis what came out through the judicial process. And that’s because there’s no law against match-fixing/spot-fixing,” the BCCI treasurer told The Indian Express.
This year, the Tamil Nadu Premier League, too, was under the scanner, as alleged approaches had been made to the players, coaches and team owners. Those approaches were reported to the BCCI’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) that launched an inquiry. The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association, too, had set up a three-member inquiry panel which gave its league a clean chit.
“These leagues are run by the state cricket associations. But after the incidents that have been portrayed in the media, we have to take a view on this. So far, what we have seen are media reports. But we need to know the facts (from the ACU and state associations). When we meet-up, we have to look into all the aspects and then take a view on how to deal with it,” Dhumal said, adding that it may come up for discussion at the BCCI AGM.
Asked, if any added anti-corruption measure will be taken for the next year’s IPL, he said: “Our ACU is doing a fine job, with regards to the IPL. But there has to be legal measures (to deal with sports corruption). So there needs to be a law.”
In July last year, the Law Commission had recommended that match-fixing and sports fraud should be made criminal offences with severe punishments. It also called for legalising sports betting in India, leaving the final call to Parliament and the state legislatures.
Last month, while speaking to this paper, The BCCI’s Anti-Corruption Unit chief Ajit Singh, too, had said corrupters would continue trying to influence matches until there’s a law against sports corruption.
“Once there’s a law, then police can take action against them. Right now the police’s fact-findings take a lot of time (and) until and unless they get other corroborative evidence (they can’t make a watertight case). As far as Sreesanth is concerned, this has been the case,” he had said.
Sreesanth’s life ban, handed by the BCCI disciplinary committee for his alleged involvement in the 2013 IPL betting and spot-fixing, was set aside by the Supreme Court earlier this year and accordingly, the cricket board’s ombudsman Justice (Retd) DK Jain reduced his suspension to seven years that would end in September 2020.
Before that in 2012, the Andhra Pradesh High Court had struck down the life ban imposed by the BCCI on Mohammad Azharuddin. The former India captain now helms the Hyderabad Cricket Association. It needs to be seen if the proposed uniform sports code incorporates the recommendations made by the Law Commission.
Meanwhile, the BCCI will not allow the IPL franchises to go and play exhibition matches abroad. “This has no merit,” Dhumal said.