Excerpts of Chandrachud report

Written by: S K Sham
Published: Wednesday, April 19, 2000, 0:00 [IST]
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The Government and the Board of Control for Cricket in India have finally decided to make public the report of the Chandrachud inquiry commission constituted to investigate betting and match-fixing charges leveled by Manoj Prabhakar.

Here is an exclusive of the excerpts of the findings of the report, which is to be made public soon.

In all, 27 past, then playing, cricketers, team managers and journalists appeared before the commission.

Former Chief Justice Y V Chandrachud , while expressing his anger at the BCCI for not making his report public, claimed that "half the misgivings on the betting scandal would be solved," if his inquiry report was made public. He added: "My report will throw fresh light into the charges."

Nothing of the sort mentioned above is ever going to happen if one goes word by word of the good judge's findings.

After reading the report and its final conclusion, one gets the feeling that a mountain of labour has only produced a mouse. That mouse, of course, happens to be Manoj Prabhakar. The entire deduction, as well as the final conclusion, is based more on the deposition of Manoj Prabhakar's team-mates and much less on what the others, like a handful of journalists have had to say at the hearings.

The findings, while confirming Chandrachud's trust in the players that they are honest and have never indulged in any act of match-fixing, almost entirely indicts Manoj Prabhakar through the process of countering and condemning every one of the former all-rounder's allegations.

The conclusion of the findings in justice Chandrachud's words as contained in the report:

"This then is the state of the evidence before me. Taking all relevant circumstances and the broad probabilities of the case into account, particularly the Indian conditions, of which I may be assumed to be intimately aware, I accept without hesitation the statements of the cricketers."

"Accordingly my answer is that the data before me does not show that any Indian player has ever taken part in match-fixing or that any of them lays bets on cricket for the purpose of match-fixing , so as to lose a match.

"There is undoubtedly large-scale betting on cricket, but that is a law and order problem. Betting, like drinking, is a common human weakness, since the beginning of the world. There are copious references to those infirmities in human nature in all classics of the world.

"One, therefore, cannot rule out the possibility that some Indian players may be laying the flutter of a bet. But it is insufficient to conclude that they lay bets for losing a match. Such a charge lacks substance and is unjustified.

The report is in two parts. One part is confined to clearing all the players of even the slightest suspicion that may have arisen from Prabhakar's allegations. Not only that, justice Chandrachud goes further to even condone what he calls "a flutter of a bet" which some of our cricketers may have indulged in "because that could not have been for losing a match."

Do we hear a small murmur of a contradiction even as good conduct certificates are being handed out to our cricketers?

The other part deals entirely with rebuffing and, at times, ridiculing Manoj Prabhakar's allegations.

Prabhakar had quoted no less than eight instances, which he believed supported his claim that one or more members of the team may be involved in trying to influence the outcome of matches. His specific charge is that he was approached with a bribe of Rs 25 lakh to help the Indian team lose their match against Pakistan in Colombo in a tri-series in 1994.

Devoting many more pages to countering the Prabhakar charges than the issue of betting and match-fixing as a whole, justice Chandrachud's conclusions are:

"I have no hesitation in rejecting the allegations made by Manoj Prabhakar ."

"The target of Manoj Prabhakar's main allegation is Mohammed Azharuddin. Referring to the Kanpur incident (of Prabahkar being accused of slow scoring against the West Indies and his accusing the skipper for issuing the instructions for the same), the report says that Nayan Mongia's submission before the Commission takes care of that charge."

The incident mentioned by Prabhakar, when both Azharuddin and the Pakistani captain Aamer Sohail had each said that the other had won the toss, has been very sternly dealt with by Justice Chandrachud.

The report says:

"The incident mentioned in clause (g) shows Manoj's total unconcern for truth. Azhar and Sohail were never captains at the same time at any match."

"Moreover, it would have been puerile for seasoned campaigners like Azhar and Sohail to proclaim within the seeing of a few commentators that the other had won the toss."

Then the report comes directly to what must constitute the most important factor between an allegation and a direct charge. Says the report:

"The fundamental objection of Manoj to disclosing the names of persons who offered him bribes or asked him to play below his form is that, such a disclosure will spell danger to his life. He said in his statement that he was warned that his life will be in danger, if he disclosed the names.

" I pleaded with him that he may disclose the names to me in confidence and that I will not mention those names in my report, much less that he had disclosed the names to me.

"Faced with the situation, he changed his stance and said that he is afraid that he will be sued or prosecuted if he disclosed the names.

"With my humble experience at the bar and the bench, I told him how unfounded this fear was but he stuck to his crease for concealing the names. This indeed is an easy exercise: Make any unfounded allegations against team-mates, officials and others and then try to get away with it by saying that the names of the culprits cannot be disclosed because there is danger to life or fear of litigation."

While the half-dozen journalists who deposed before him have been quoted in his report, nothing that they have said has weighed or counted in his final opinion.

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