Delhi Police on Tuesday invoked the stringent MCOCA against suspended cricketer S Sreesanth and 22 others in the IPL spot-fixing scandal for which the "command" originated from underworld don Dawood Ibrahim's outfit.
Following this, a Delhi court remanded Sreesanth, another player Ajit Chandila and the others to further judicial custody till June 18.
"Since the accused persons were acting on command of people based abroad like Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar and Chota Shakeel who have a continuous past record of organised crimes, provisions of Maharasthra Control of Organised Crime Act have been invoked against the accused," police told Additional Sessions Judge Sanjiv Jain.
The court, in its order, referred to the approval granted by Joint Commissioner of Police Special Cell for invoking section 3 and 4 of MCOCA and also a report citing reasons for the same.
"It has been stated that the approval for invoking MCOCA has been accorded by Jt CP special cell on the premise that the arrested persons/accused through extensive use of electronic and via media were in communication with each other and with their other associates, who are still absconding, including those associates who are based abroad.
"The illegal organised betting syndicate in India is being controlled by persons based abroad.
"The arrested accused persons have been found playing role of conspirators while others have been found acting as facilitators," the court quoted from the report.
"This organised crime syndicate besides controlling illegal betting was indulging in fixing performance of players and also the rates of betting," police told the court.
The 16 accused, who have filed bail pleas include Sreesanth. The police's move of invoking MCOCA was opposed by the counsel for the accused, saying police does not have approval for it.
Advocate DP Singh, appearing for bookie Chandresh Patel argued that the accused, who was said to be having links with D-company has been given bail in Mumbai and here MCOCA has been invoked.
"How can players be accused of being a part of an organised crime syndicate," he argued.
The other 24 accused includes Sreesanth, Rajasthan Royals player Ajit Chandila, former T20 player Amit Kumar Singh and former Ranji players Manoj Guddewar and Babu Rao Yadav.
Bookies Jiju Janardhan, Deepak Kumar, Manan Bhat, Chandresh Patel, Ramakant Aggarwal, Rakesh, Sunil Bhatia, Kiran Dole, Ashwani Aggarwal, Mohd Yahya, Ajay Goel, Love Garg, Amit Gupta, Bhupender Nagar, Sunil Saxena, Sayed Durez Ahmed, bouncer Vikash Chowdhury and businessmen Vinod Sharma and Nitin Jain are also accused in the case.
The police had earlier told the court that it was probing the angle of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim in the case and had said that interception of various calls suggested that several big names may be involved in the episode as calls were made to Dawood.
The police had said there are some missing links and they are working on it.
"We are missing the link of the whole episode which will be proved very soon," the prosecutor had said, adding, "Some big names are also involved which I cannot disclose at this stage and they were in regular contact with D company."
Sreesanth, Chavan and Chandila, who all were playing for the T20 League's Rajasthan Royals franchise, were arrested in Mumbai by Delhi Police for their alleged involvement in spot-fixing in T20 League matches for payments of up to Rs. 60 lakhs just for giving away pre-determined number of runs in an over.
These three players, who have been suspended by the BCCI, and the others arrested have been booked under section 420 (cheating) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.
On May 21, the police had informed the court that section 409 of the IPC, which deals with criminal breach of trust and entails a maximum of life imprisonment along with fine, has been invoked against all the accused in the case.
The police had said they had added section 409 IPC as the agreement concerning T20 domestic league is a tripartite agreement between BCCI, Rajasthan Royals and the player and the agreement was an exclusive contract.
Regarding Sreesanth and other two cricketers, police had said that they had used various signs like putting towel in pocket for a fixed over and exercising before the over to give time to bettors to place their stakes.
What is MCOCA
Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) was formulated in 1999 to tackle organised crime which abetted narco-terrorism and raised huge amount of illegal money.
According to the provisions of the Act, confessions before senior police officers are admissible, not only against the accused giving the confession but also against the other accused in the same case.
There is no provision for granting anticipatory bail to the accused.