Experts say the bookmakers arrested in the unfolding spot-fixing scandal can be booked under stricter laws for their alleged links to international crime syndicates, along with the charges of cheating and criminal conspiracy that have been currently slapped on them.
Even though both the offences-under section 420 (cheating) and section 120 B (criminal conspiracy) are non-bailable, lawyers feel this is a case where the stringent MCOCA can be applied once the network of the betting syndicate is established, especially since the investigation is pointing towards links in Pakistan and Dubai.
Criminal lawyer Arfan Sait said though criminal conspiracy is a serious charge, indulging in spot fixing and match fixing, in which huge funds are involved and where people are being defrauded through a betting ring connected to the underworld, can be equated to being part of an organised crime syndicate.
Lawyers also feel the charges can be widened by including provisions under the Gambling Act and even the Information Technology Act.
“It has been stated the culprits have been using social networking sites Facebook and Twitter to operate the betting ring, in which case the IT act can be invoked as well,” said advocate Pradeep Havnur.
Advocate Samir Vaidya agreed the bookies can be booked under MCOCA if the evidence establishes their connection with the underworld. Vaidya, however, feels the players cannot be charged under the stringent act since it is unlikely that a player can be part of a syndicate.
“The players can be approached by a bookie and can be tried for accepting money, but the crime [of being part of an organised crime syndicate] is committed by the bookie,” said Vaidya.
“If anyone has a past criminal record or a charge sheet has been filed against him, MCOCA can be applied automatically,” Sait said.