'MCOCA on Sreesanth bad in law'

'MCOCA on Sreesanth bad in law'

Legal experts blast Delhi Police for abusing process of law

'MCOCA on Sreesanth bad in law'

Legal experts have criticised the decision of the Delhi Police to invoke the harsh Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against Indian pacer S Sreesanth and his Rajasthan Royal team-mates arrested for their alleged complicity in the IPL spot-fixing case.

The helplessness of the investigating agency in the absence of a proper law to deal with the fixing menace should not be a guiding principle for slapping MCOCA, they said.

Noted criminal lawyer Sushil Kumar described it as a “complete abuse” of the process of law. “The police were listening to telephonic tapes of players, bookies and others illegally for months together. Why did they not invoke the MCOCA from the beginning if they had all the material relating to the involvement of underworld dons?” he said.
Interestingly, the Mumbai Police have not used it so far, pointed out Kumar.

Even if the police invoke the MCOCA, the court can at the stage of bail examine prima facie whether the provisions of the Act are attracted. Only if it is satisfied that the Act applies, would the stringent provision for bail, extension of time for police custody and filing of charge sheet start, senior advocate K V Viswanathan said.

“One only hopes that the Delhi Police in the case of Sreesanth has not blown the balloon too big lest the whole thing bursts on their face,” he remarked.

As actor Vindoo Dara Singh and CSK team principal Gurunath Meiyappan — both allegedly involved in betting  during the matches in IPL 6 — walked out of prison on bail on Tuesday, the Delhi Police decided to invoke the MCOCA against Sreesanth and others.

The Delhi Police special cell alleged that the players were acting at the behest of fugitive underworld dons Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Shakeel.

It is difficult to obtain bail for the accused charged with MCOCA, and the investigating agency gets an extended time of 180 days for filing the charge sheet, than 60-90 days in other offences under the Indian Penal Code.

Reacting to the development, Delhi High Court lawyer Amit Kumar said that it is an “unjustified move” by Delhi Police. “There is an objective behind invoking MCOCA. This action goes beyond objectives like dealing with organised crime and extortion rackets.

“There is no doubt that it cannot be tolerated that players like Sreesanth will get involved in spot-fixing, match-fixing or betting, but the police cannot slap the MCOCA, which is meant to curb organised criminal activities,” he said.

The MCOCA cannot be invoked unless offences come under its purview, he said.
It is to be noted that a particular person can be prosecuted under the stringent law only when he or she is a part of an organised crime syndicate.

Besides, there must be at least two cases pending against him or her in which charge sheets have already been filed and the trial court has taken cognisance of those charge sheets.

In case of those players, they have earlier not been involved in any such case, let alone arrested or prosecuted.

Former Delhi High Court judge R S Sodhi said, “If the decision is taken as a face-saving measure and in a knee-jerk reaction to pre-empt the bail that might have been granted to the players and other accused, then the police are compromising the right of the accused guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.”

“If the police have collected enough material to show that the money collected was used in activities detrimental to the security of the country, there is no harm in invoking the MCOCA,” he added. Kumar said that the players must challenge the sanction for their prosecution under the MCOCA, if already granted by the Joint Commissioner of Police, and they can file a writ petition alleging implication and harassment by the investigating agency.

Parents seek fan support

A day after the judicial custody of S Sreesanth was extended till June 18, the cricketer’s parents sought public support in helping them handle the crisis, reports DHNS from Thiruvananthapuram. Speaking to reporters in Kochi on Wednesday, Shanthakumaran Nair and Savitridevi maintained that their son was innocent, but refused to take questions on the ongoing probe into the spot-fixing case.