Close on the heels of the Supreme Court judgment on match-fixing and betting in cricket, the government has finalised the long-awaited Prevention of Sports Fraud Bill that seeks to punish players, officials and administrators with a five-year jail term and heavy fines if they are found guilty of serious fraud like fixing.
The bill, which has been sent to the Cabinet for its approval, provides for fines up to Rs 10 lakh or five times the “economic benefit” derived by the guilty, whichever is higher, sources said. Manipulating results, spot-fixing, and willful under-performance for monetary or other benefits are some of the crimes that will attract this kind of punishment.
A lesser category of crime involves sharing of insider information with the knowledge that such information can be used for betting or manipulating the result. For such crimes, jail term of up to three years and fine of Rs five lakh or three times the economic benefit has been prescribed.
Sources said attempt to commit fraud and providing assistance in committing fraud have been equated with the actual act of the fraud and will attract the same punishment.
In cases where the crime has been found to have been committed by an organisation, every official “responsible to” the organisation would deem to be guilty of the crime, except if the official is able to prove that he was unaware of the crime.
The finalisation of the bill comes just two weeks after the Supreme Court gave its ruling on a case related to spot-fixing in cricket. It had absolved the Cricket Board president N Srinivasan of the charges of spot-fixing and betting but restrained him from contesting the Board elections again because of a conflict of interest. Srinivasan’s India Cements owns the Chennai Super Kings IPL team. The court had held Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan and owner of Rajasthan Royals Raj Kundra guilty of betting.
The Supreme Court had constituted a three-member committee headed by former Chief Justice of India R M Lodha to suggest reforms in the Cricket Board and also decided on the quantum of punishment for Meiyappan and Kundra.
Sources said discussions on the bill, which had been in the works for about two years, were expedited after the Supreme court judgment and will be taken up by the Cabinet soon, possibly ahead of the budget session of Parliament beginning in the third week of this month. The government, they said, intended to introduce the bill in the upcoming Parliament session.