Almost two decades after the one of the biggest match-fixing scandals came to light, a team of two police officers — including one of a CP rank — will attend the court hearing in the extradition case of bookie Sanjeev Chawla, the key accused in the 2000 case, which involved the late South African captain Hansie Cronje.
Apparently, the name of current investigation officer (IO) was dropped from the proposal and an inspector, who had filed the chargesheet in July 2013, was shortlisted by senior Delhi Police officers.
Chawla had filed an application in the UK High Court seeking leave to appeal against his extradition order by Westminster Magistrates’ Court. UK home secretary Sajid Javid had also signed off on the District Judge’s order in favour of the extradition.
“The next ‘short hearing’ will be on November 7 and a team of two officers — special CP (crime) Satish Golcha and inspector Keshav Mathur, who was the sixth IO of the case — will reach by November 5. In the proposal, the name of the current IO along with his senior was suggested, but it was turned down and two new names shortlisted,” a senior police officer said.
The sixth IO, Mathur, had filed the chargesheet in the scandal, naming Cronje who died in a plane crash in June 2002. Chawla and Cronje were named in a 70-page chargesheet by the Crime Branch for ‘fixing matches played between India and South Africa from February 16, 2000 to March 20, 2000 in India’.
“Mathur had also initiated Chawla’s extradition proposal and he is even aware of all case-related documents. Police are sending their two officers to attend the short hearing and if the court rejected Chawla’s appeal, they will immediately initiate the procedure for his extradition,” an officer said.
The scandal broke in April 2000, when Delhi Police intercepted a conversation between blacklisted bookie Chawla and Cronje, in which it was learnt that the South African captain had accepted money to lose matches. Chawla has also been accused of offering money to two England players in August 1999.
As soon as Delhi Police filed the FIR in the first week of March 2000, Chawla moved to the UK. He had gone there for the first time on a business visa in 1996, but his Indian passport was revoked in 2000, and he obtained a UK passport in 2005.
On June 14, 2016, Chawla was arrested in London following India’s request for extradition, and UK officials then asked Delhi Police for details about security arrangements and facilities in the jail he will be kept in. This was done after Chawla raised several questions about security arrangements and facilities in Indian jails.
In response, police informed UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) — through the Ministry of External Affairs — that Chawla would be housed in Tihar Jail, which they described as a central facility following international standards, and he will be provided a special cell with special security personnel, a senior police officer said, adding that in January this year, a lower court issued a fresh order, allowing Chawla’s extradition, and it was later sent to the UK home secretary, who formally signs off on the order under the India-UK Extradition Treaty.
Sources said several meetings were also called by senior officers where they discussed the case history and also prepared questions for Chawla.
“In one such meeting, they also called the complainant ACP Ishwar Singh, who had intercepted the phone calls. Singh had filed a complaint with charges of match-fixing against Cronje, London-based businessman Chawla and four of the latter’s associates. It had details of how Chawla and Cronje fixed team scores, and mentioned the roles of four other South African players, including Herschelle Gibbs,” police sources added.