Delhi High Court Reverses Order on Police Plea Challenging Bail To Sanjeev Chawla For Match Fixing

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In the case of Sanjeev Kumar Chawla  V. The State, the Delhi High Court on 02-05-2020, saved its Order on an invocation by Delhi Police defying the bail granted to Sanjeev Chawla, an alleged bookie and a key blamed in one of the Cricket’s biggest Match- Fixing Scandals that involved former South African Hansie Cronje and his fellow Cricketers Herschelle Gibbs and Nicky Boje.

Sanjeev Kumar Chawla was accused under Section 173 of the C.R.P.C,1973 filled by Inspector, Crime Branch dated 22-07-2013 and for the alleged commission of the offences punishable under Section 420/120-B of the Indian Penal Code,1860 with an alleged conspiracy to fix matches during the February-March,2000 in alleged connivance with Mr Hansie Cronje, Caption of the South Africa Cricket Team.

Chawla was extradited from the UK four years after the procedure to bring him back to India for further probe in the case began. The Delhi Police Crime Branch had filed a Charge- Sheet.in the Case almost 13 years after the Scandal broke out, the first ever to be delayed for that long. A Charge-Sheet is usually filed within Three months of the registration of a case. The Charge- Sheet said Chawla had played the “most vital role” in the crime. It said Chawla not only acted as a conduit between the bookies but also fixed matches in connivance with Cronje.

According to the Charge-Sheet, the first Test match in Mumbai and the first One- Day International in Cochin in 2000 were fixed. This, the Police said, resulted in wrongful gain to the accused and wrongful loss in general to the public at large, who had gone to watch the match “believing that they would witness truly competitive matches in which each player would perform optimally”.

Justice Asha Menon, who directed the consultation through video conferencing, heard the contentions of the counsel for Delhi Police and Chawla and reserved the order on the plea.

An Alleged Bookie Pleaded for a Bail

Senior Advocate Vikas Pahwa, speaking for Chawla, said while saving the request, the High Court has asked the Magistrate worried to acknowledge the Bail Bond and guarantees outfitted by the blamed and direct his discharge subject to the result of the High Court procedures.

The representing Counsel Said that High Court has asked Chawla to give an undertaking that he will abide by the outcome of its order and he along with the sureties is bound by the undertaking.

Chawla, who was extradited from London in February, was allowed Bail by a Trial Court here on April 30 on furnishing of a personal bond of Rs 2 Lakh and two securities of the like amount.

Counsel representing Chawla pleaded Bail saying in view of the COVID-19 Pandemic, there is a risk of getting infected with the virus in jail where it is difficult to keep up social distancing.

Delhi Police Defying The Bail

Delhi Police defying the Bail Order, the Police sought its cancellation on the ground that Chawla is a British National and it took 20 years to bring him back to India and there is the likelihood of the accused fleeing from justice.

The Police, in the plea recorded through Prosecutor Kewal Singh Ahuja, said the rules as for COVID-19 and arrival of under-trial detainees are not relevant to Chawla considering his supposed job in the Match-Fixing as he has played as the fundamental channel in the Match-Fixing.

Chawla’s Counsel contradicted the Police’s invocation saying Chawla never applied for Bail in 60 days which indicated he was helping out the Prosecuting Agency and the Trial is pending for Seven years and charges have not been encircled and it will need some investment to finish the Trial.

He said the request to drop the Bail was not practical and keeping in mind that the Supreme Court and High Court are de-blocking correctional facilities to contain the spread of Corona Virus, Police is keeping the accused in prison.

The High Court has asked both the sides to give their written submission by May 4, 2020.


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