Was Indian Premier League chargesheet filed in hurry?

The Indian Premier League spot-fixing scandal took away the heat from Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar while he was facing professional crisis after two brutal gang rapes in the capital.

But filing the chargesheet in the case has drawn criticism from lawyers, who said it was step taken in a rush.

Kumar, who will retire on Wednesday, was under tremendous pressure from the home ministry and NGOs after the December 16 gang rape case, as well as negligence on the part of police in the Gandhi Nagar gang rape of a minor.
 
The city saw protests for many days, with people coming out on the streets to demand better policing and resignation of Kumar. The commissioner also made a blunder of mentioning that 47-year-old Delhi Police Constable Subhash Tomar died because of being trampled upon and assault by protesters during the anti-rape agitation at India Gate. Police had charged eight persons for it.

Later, it was found that Tomar fell to the ground on his own during the crackdown and succumbed to the alleged injuries.

Recently on May 16, when three Rajasthan Royals cricketers — Sreesanth, Chavan and Chandila — along with bookies were arrested for their alleged involvement in the IPL spot-fixing case, Kumar got a pat on his back from the home ministry.

But the hurry to file the chargesheet after 13 years in the 2000 match fixing scandal involving former South African captain Hansie Cronje and giving clean chit to cricketers Herschelle Gibbs and Nicky Boje has again raised eyebrows of many senior police officers and lawyers.

When the chargesheet in the IPL spot-fixing case was filed a day before retirement and making underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and his aide Chhota Shakeel the main accused in the case and invoking MCOCA on players, many lawyers opined that it was done in a rush.

Delhi Police special cell booked the cricketers under MCOCA even though the court in June had granted bail to Sreesanth and Chavan and slammed police for “misuse of the stringent provision”, and slapping a tough Maharashtra law on cricketers without “sufficient evidence” of links with organised crime.

“There is prima facie no sufficient evidence and material against the accused to establish their nexus with organised crime syndicate as claimed by police. There is no reason for believing that the accused are guilty under the MCOCA at this stage,” the court had ruled before giving bail to Sreesanth and Chavan.

 “The move to charge the three cricketers with MCOCA is nothing but an attempt to seek publicity and also an effort of the one upmanship between Delhi and Mumbai Police,” said Kishore Gaekwad, counsel for Ankit Chavan.

A senior police official summed up the mood in the force, and cited why the chargesheet was filed a day before Kumar’s retirement: “Look, the police commissioner is retiring on Wednesday and we wanted to file the chargesheet during his tenure. It is a befitting farewell to him. Now, the government has to expedite the process to nab the mafia don.”

The officer said the name

of Dawood itself brings glamour to any case. “We have corroborated his involvement with evidence,” he said with a smile.

On how they will nab the underworld don, who has been evading Indian security agencies for the past 20 years, the officer said they have done their job by establishing that spot-fixing was being run by Dawood and his gang.  He said they will pray before the court to issue a red corner notice against Dawood as well as a letter rogatory.

On the chargesheet filed on Tuesday, another defence lawyer, D P Singh, said, “It is nothing but seeking publicity from this case. The chargesheet was filed in a hurry. The evidence will not stand judicial scrutiny.”

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