Guilty! Why Sreesanth, Chandila, Chavan are cricket's culprits

  • Pradeep Magazine, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 30, 2015 13:40 IST
Cricketer S Sreesanth breaks down in court after all charges against him, as well as Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan, were dropped in the IPL 2013 spot fixing case, on July 25, 2015. (Avantika Mehta/HT Photo)

It may not be misplaced to describe the latest round of the spot-fixing saga — the curious case of S Sreesanth, Indian criminal laws and his acquittal — as some sort of a joke being played on the lovers of sport.

The immediate reaction to the court dismissing all charges against him and two other cricketers was celebratory in tone, especially from those who still believe the "underbelly" of Indian cricket is the figment of a perverse imagination of all those who want to destroy the very foundations of the sport.

What better endorsement of this view than the certification of the laws of the land itself as reflected through the court verdict.

To make the whole episode more dramatic is Kerala's assertion that Sreesanth is a victim and now that he has been absolved of all charges, his life ban should be immediately revoked. So, I guess, would be the stand of the states that Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan belong to.

In India, an individual's crime/misdemeanor/acquittal gets linked straightaway with his caste/regional identity. Consequently, it becomes the responsibility of the guardians of that identity to clamour for justice, which in the case of these cricketers, means pardon with dignity.

Maybe in Sreesanth's case, it would even mean immediate rehabilitation in the Indian team!

To act as a spoilsport for all those who mean well for the game but are ignorant of some basic facts: the judge in this case, Neena Bansal Krishna, to quote from the Hindustan Times report, says in her judgment, "This is a case which raises serious concerns about the rampant rot that has set in sports, especially commercial sports and adequacy of the existing laws to deal effectively with the prevailing situation in the world of sport."

She goes on to add: "The case exposed the conduct of not only the players but also of the so-called bookies and conduit who were connected in this big game of money through spot-fixing and betting." And then comes the most operative part of the judgment which says: "Helpless to proceed further because of the huge vacuum of law in this regard."

This should provide enough evidence of guilt to all those who read in the acquittal of the three cricketers proof of their innocence. To put it blandly, since there are no laws in India that make fixing, spot fixing a criminal offence, the judge has expressed her helplessness in prosecution of the three accused.

The board, not known to punish its own officials, is always and justifiably blamed for not even thinking twice before taking harsh action against the players. But two wrongs do not make a right, and in this case it is on the right track in sticking to its stand that the ban won't be revoked.

For the sake of a proper clean-up, which has many dimensions to it and the Lodha panel is working for some harsh course-correction measures, let politics and sentiment not meddle with hard facts.

The Delhi police may have bungled in its overreach and spoiled its own case, but within the boundaries of the sport and its ethical framework, Sreesanth, Chandila and Chavan are guilty.

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