India’s union law minister, Kapil Sibal, is keen on the central government drawing up legislation that allows “exemplary punishment” to be handed out to those involved in spot or match-fixing in the country. Sibal has consulted with Jitendra Singh, the sports minister, about the same, and hopes the bill will be finalised and introduced in Parliament at the earliest.
“I have asked the secretary, legislative, to come up with a proposed legislation to ensure that any attempt to fix matches, in any sport, attracts exemplary punishment,” Sibal was quoted as saying by the Indian Express. “Match-fixing destroys the confidence of the public who believe that all sporting events are fair and the outcomes are based on the performances of the sportspersons on the field. Any attempt to fix a match and its result cannot be allowed.”
The development comes in wake of the allegations of spot-fixing in the IPL, over which three Rajasthan Royals players – including Test cricketer Sreesanth – were arrested last week.
Sibal said past instances of fixing in India, where attempts to prosecute the perpetrators failed due to lack of legislation dealing solely with the issue, proved it was necessary to work on such law. “The present provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) don’t allow prosecution for match-fixing as it is not an offence. The nearest provision under which a player or someone who indulges in match-fixing or spot-fixing can be booked is Section 420 of the IPC, which deals with cheating or fraud.
“However, past experience of using this provision of IPC has not been very good, since many previous attempts to prosecute the accused have failed. That is why it is necessary to come up with a special enactment to deal with this.”
Indian cricket has had two other instances of bans being handed out for corruption. Last year five domestic players were banned by the BCCI – for periods ranging between one year and life – for allegedly being involved in match-fixing, and negotiating for extra and illegal pay. Before that, there was the high profile match-fixing saga of 2000, following which former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin was handed a life ban and batsman Ajay Jadeja was banned for five years among others. Jadeja’s ban was overturned by the Delhi High Court in January 2003, the court ruling that there was no proof of his guilt. In November last year, the Andhra Pradesh High Court declared the BCCI’s life ban on Azharuddin to be illegal. The bans were the only penalty meted out to these players, with none of them being prosecuted in a court of law on the fixing charges.