Match-fixing in KPL cricket matches did not amount to cheating under IPC: HC

Court overturns charges filed against players and others; says it is BCCI can sue for match fixing charges for violating its statutes

In a blow to the Bengaluru police force, the Karnataka High Court has ruled that the match fixing, which allegedly took place during Karnataka Premier League (KPL) cricket matches held in August 2019, did not amount to an offense of cheating under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and quashed charges filed against two cricketers and others in the case.

“It is true that if a player indulges in match fixing, there is a general feeling that he has cheated the fans of the game. But this general feeling does not constitute a criminal offense,” the court noted.

Judge Sreenivas Harish Kumar approved the order while allowing the petitions filed by cricketers Abrar Kazi and CM Gautam, who were players of KPL’s Ballari Tuskers franchise team, Ali Ashpak alias Asfak Hanif Thara, owner of the Belagavi Panthers franchise , all native of Bengaluru, and Amit Mavi, a bookmaker based in Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh.

domain of BCCI

The court said: “The match fixing may indicate dishonesty, lack of discipline and mental corruption of a player and for this purpose the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is the authority to take disciplinary action. If the statutes of the BCCI provides for disciplinary action against players, such action is permitted, but registration of an FIR, on the grounds that a crime has been committed which is punishable under Section 420 of the IPC, cannot be permitted. ”

Regarding the prosecution’s allegation that match fixing constitutes fraud and that therefore the offense under Section 420 of the IPC was invoked in the complaint, the court said that for invoking Section 420 of the IPC the essential ingredients to be present being deceit, dishonest solicitation of a person to surrender property or to alter or destroy all or part of valuable security.

“No incentive”

Further, on the prosecution’s argument that cricket fans go to the game by buying tickets and thereby “are tempted to part with their property, i.e. their money,” the court said that “money is of course property, but the argument that cricket fans are incentivized to buy tickets cannot be accepted”.

“She [cricket lovers] may feel they will witness a fair game, but they buy tickets voluntarily. So an inducement to buy a ticket can be ruled out,” the court noted.

The court also refused to accept the argument that betting amounts to gambling, which is an offense under Karnataka’s police law in the case of KPL matches.

“If section 27 of the Karnataka Police Act is seen, its explanation says very clearly that games of chance do not include athletic games or sports. Cricket is a sport and therefore, even if it involves gambling, it cannot fall under the definition of gambling enshrined in the Karnataka Police Act,” the court noted.

“Even if the full allegations about the charges are true, they do not constitute a criminal offense,” the court made clear, quashing the entire criminal proceedings initiated against the petitioners.

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