New Delhi: Former Indian Cricket Captain Mohammed Azharuddin and his close associate ex-Delhi captain Ajay Sharma, who have been found involved in match-fixing and betting, can be charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) as they are public servants, working for government organisations, says the CBI.The agency is examining the question of registration of a case under the PCA against Azhar and Ajay Sharma, said the 162-page report on match-fixing in Indian cricket, which was made public by Sports Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, here today.While Azhar is working for the State Bank of India as Chief Manager (PRO) in Hyderabad, Ajay Sharma is employed by the Central Warehousing Corporation, making them public servants under Section 2 (c) of the PCA, 1988.''An offence under section 13 (1) (d) (i) and (iii) (criminal misconduct) of the PCA can be registered against the two players (Azhar and Ajay Sharma). However, looking at the issue in its totality, the question of registration of a case under the aforesaid sections of PCA is under evaluation,'' the report said.However, most of the others, who have been found guilty by the agency of match-fixing and betting -- Ajay Jadeja, Nayan Mongia and Manoj Prabhakar and former physio Dr Ali Irani -- do not fall within the definition of 'public servants' and hence the PCA does not apply to them, the agency said. The CBI discussed the report with Solicitor General of India Harish Salve, before handing it over to the Sports Ministry. Mr Salve, after scanning the evidence, was in broad agreement that no criminal charges under cheating or under the Gambling Act can be filed against anyone because of the nebulous position of law in this regard, as well as the improbability of the investigating agency being able to obtain sufficient legal evidence.The legal position arising out of the facts of inquiry was also discussed with Mr Justice Manoj Kumar Mukherjee, former Judge of the Supreme Court, who gave his opinion in writing.The CBI also analysed the provisions of section 120-A of the Indian Penal Code dealing with criminal conspiracy and section 415 of the IPC dealing with cheating and concluded that the facts of inquiry in this case do not constitute an offence under these sections of law.The Judge opined that it is difficult to hold, on the basis of the materials collected during the inquiry that a case of cheating has been made out. What may help the guilty players in evading punishment for criminal conspiracy and cheating is the fact that the BCCI had not made the players sign any declaration or undertaking relating to the code of conduct to be followed by them.''If it (the declaration or undertaking) was so taken and if there was any misleading statement or false representation or suppression of relevant facts made by the player concerned therein, it might be said that the offence punishable under section 417 IPC was made out,'' the Judge felt.The CBI found lacunae in the letters of the BCCI intimating the players about their selection which states, ''We are sure, you will put your best efforts in the interest of the country'' willful non-performance/under performance inspite thereof amounts not only to breach of faith and of sporting ethics, but also of undermining the prestige of the country and the people at large.Nonetheless, however reprehensible the conduct of these players concerned may be, it cannot be brought within the parameters of 'cheating' as defined in the IPC, Mr Justice Mukherjee was of the view.About the applicability of the Public Gambling Act, 1867, the Judge said even if cogent material is made available to prove that any of the persons arraigned is guilty of the offence under section 3 of the Act or similar provision or other state acts, and if it is decided to take steps for launching prosecution in a competent court of law, the punishment provided for the offence is lenient and is not at all commensurate with the magnitude of the crime.UNI
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