Sanjeev Chawla, key accused in the 2000 cricket match-fixing scandal involving late South African captain Hansie Cronje, walked out of Tihar jail Monday evening. Director General (Prisons) Sandeep Goel said, “Chawla was released from jail at 8:30 pm on Monday”.
Advocate Jagjit Nandal, who has been defending the accused in the trial court and the Delhi High Court told The Indian Express that Chawla was released since there was no stay from the high court on the operation of the trial court’s April 30 order.
The trial court had ordered Chawla’s release on furnishing a personal bond of Rs two lakh with two sureties of the same amount.
On Saturday, the High Court had reserved its order on Delhi Police’s appeal against the trial court’s decision to grant bail on the ground that Chawla is a British national and it took 20 years to bring him to India and there was likelihood of him fleeing from justice.
Chawla’s counsel, however, had opposed the police’s claim before the high court, saying the accused is in judicial custody since February 12 and has spent 76 days in jail.
Hearing the arguments of both sides, the court in its May 2 order had said, “in case the accused (Chawla) submits his bail bond and surety bonds, the Duty MM (Metropolitan Magistrate) will ensure that an undertaking is also simultaneously filed separately by the accused and sureties to the effect that they will be bound by the decision of this court.”
Chawla’s counsel said that they have completed the formalities before the trial court, following which he was released Monday evening.
The counsel said, if the high court sets aside the trial court’s order, Chawla will have to surrender. The court is scheduled to pass its order this week.
As per the police, Chawla and Cronje were named in the chargesheet filed on July 23, 2013 by the Crime Branch for ‘fixing matches played between India and South Africa from February 16, 2000 to March 20, 2000 in India’.
The case is pending trial before the court and the next hearing is on May 14.
The match-fixing scandal broke in April 2000, when Delhi Police intercepted a conversation between Chawla and Cronje, in which it was learnt that the latter had accepted money to lose matches.
Chawla has also been accused of offering money to two England players in August 1999.