Published On: January 22, 2022 at 10:54 IST
Recently, the Karnataka High Court held that match-fixing is not a criminal offence under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The ruling came in the 2019 Karnataka Premier League (KPL) match-fixing case in which CM Gautam (player and Petitioner No. 1), Abrar Kazi (player and Petitioner No. 2), Ali Ashpak alias Asfak Hanif Thara (owner of Belagavi Panthers and Petitioner No. 3), and Amit Mavi (bookie and Petitioner No. 4) were the main accused.
A single Judge Bench of Justice Sreenivas Harish Kumar held that Section 420 IPC (Cheating) cannot be applied against the accused and the registration of FIR against the alleged offender for a crime punishable under Section 420 IPC cannot be permitted. Therefore, the whole case was quashed.
Justice Sreenivas Harish Kumar further observed that the match-fixing may indicate dishonesty, indiscipline, and mental corruption of a player and for that purpose, the BCCI is the authority to initiate disciplinary action. He also added that even if the whole Chargesheet averments are taken to be true on their face value, they do not constitute an offence.
It was further argued by the Respondent that the crowd buys tickets to watch a fair game and thus, they are induced to part with their property i.e., their money. In response to this argument, the Court observed that although the money spent by people to buy tickets is their property, the argument that they are ‘induced’ to part with their property cannot be accepted. They may have a feeling that they are going to witness a fair game being played, but they buy the tickets voluntarily. Therefore, the question of inducement to buy a ticket was ruled out.
The Karnataka High Court also acquitted a bookie involved in the case. It was held that betting does not come in the ambit of gaming which is an offence under the Karnataka Police Act. The Bench observed that explanation to Section 2 (7) of the Karnataka Police Act, clearly says that game of chance does not include any athletic game or sport. Cricket is a sport and therefore, even if betting takes place, it cannot be brought within the ambit of definition of ‘gaming‘ found in the Karnataka Police Act.