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Gibbs can't be charged under IPC

india Updated: Oct 12, 2006 12:10 IST

Six years after Delhi Police prised open the can of match-fixing on the basis of tapped telephone transcripts, it will realise that no case can be made out against South African opening batsman Herschelle Gibbs when they question him on Thursday.

The dashing opener, who is part of the South African squad for the Champions Trophy, will be accompanied by his legal representative Peter Whelon. He may have to go through the motions of being asked perfunctory questions over the 2000 match-fixing scandal, but legally no charges can be brought against him.

Gibbs is one of the accused in the FIR (No 111) registered in April 2000 under charges of cheating, fraud and criminal conspiracy along with the late Hansie Cronje, Nicky Boje, Pieter Strydom and Henry Williams.

Despite their failure to make headway in the investigation, Delhi Police have refused to close the case that has been hanging fire all these years.

When the match-fixing case was transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) at that time, former solicitor general Harish Salve had stoutly maintained that no penal offence could be made out against the accused.

Neither bribery nor attempts to fix a match constitute offences under the Indian Penal Code and Delhi High Court judge M S A Siddique brought this to light in April 2002 while granting interim bail to Kishen Kumar, one of the main accused.

"There is ambiguity in the charges made against the accused under the three sections 120B, 420 and 420/34 (relating to criminal conspiracy, cheating and fraud) of the IPC. This is nothing but sheer harassment," top criminal lawyer R K Anand said.

"When no charges under these sections were brought against Indian cricketers how do you expect anything to happen against the South African players?" he asked.

However, the moot point in this entire case, which has been in limbo, is that main protagonists are either dead or absconding.

Hansie Cronje who admitted involvement on his part was served with a life ban before death in a plane crash in 2002.

Sanjeev Chawla, the bookie who offered money to Cronje to under perform, remains in hiding in London for the last six years and has refused to appear before the police despite repeated summons.

Similarly, Kishen Kumar and Rajesh Kalra, who were also charged, are out on bail.

"The police are keeping this case open only for settling petty egos. There is a growing acceptance that the case is going nowhere but the police have held on," said a senior CBI official, involved in the match-fixing probe.

The 32-year-old Gibbs, who has played 79 Tests, had admitted accepting money from disgraced former captain Hansie Cronje to score fewer than 20 runs against India in a one-dayer during their 2000 March-April tour.

Gibbs subsequently scored 74 runs and said he had "forgotten" about his deal, but was nevertheless suspended and fined after the hearing at the King's Commission in South Africa.

In a recent post on the website bigstarcricket.com, Gibbs said, "Obviously, my trip to India is not just going to be about the cricket, unfortunately. As everyone now knows, I will be speaking to Delhi Police about events from years back."

In a recent interview, Gibbs made a specific reference to the Delhi Police and its commissioner K K Paul.

He said, "It's not like I haven't made the effort. It's them being hard-arses. That's it. I think the particular guy that's driving the whole thing is quite a hard-arse sort of guy and he refuses to let himself be dictated to. He wants to do it on his terms and that's it."

Gibbs subsequently recanted and apologised for the remarks.

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