In a major cricket-related judgment ahead of the World Cup, the Delhi High Court has quashed the criminal proceedings against Delhi-based industrialist Mukesh Gupta who had been named as an “influential bookie” by former disgraced South Africa cricket captain Hansie Cronje.
The CBI and Enforcement Directorate’s probe into match-fixing allegations against Indian players, including Mohammad Azharuddin and Manoj Prabhakar, on a reference from the Sports Ministry had hinged very heavily on Gupta.
After he was sacked on April 11, 2000, Cronje had claimed before the Edwin King Commission, probing the match fixing scandal, that Mukesh was his link to various Indian players. Mukesh had approached the High Court and had sought quashing of criminal proceedings initiated against him before a lower court in Delhi by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
This was after Cronje, while “confessing” to his “connection” to bookmakers, told the King Commission that during the 1996 Kanpur test, Mukesh, introduced to him by Mohammad Azharuddin, gave him $30,000 to persuade the South Africans to lose wickets on the last day to throw away the match. India eventually won the match.
Mukesh is also alleged to have got Cronje to throw away a match when India had toured South Africa earlier. The Enforcement Directorate had moved the lower court against Mukesh citing certain findings against him by the CBI.
Justice Hima Kohli, while quashing the criminal proceedings against Mukesh, upheld his lawyer Sandeep Sethi’s argument that criminal proceedings against him under FERA do not hold after the special FERA appellate tribunal had discharged him of all charges.
Mukesh had also contended in his petition that the recommendations and findings of guilt by a foreign commission were only “recommendatory” in nature and not binding on Indian courts.