In relation with the Tamil Nadu Premier League’s (TNPL) fixing row, the BCCI’s Anti-Corruption Unit chief Ajit Singh Shekhawat, in an exclusive interview to PTI in Mohali on Tuesday (September 17), suggested a match-fixing law, besides legalisation of betting, to tackle corruption in Indian cricket.
Shekhawat, who was the Director General of Police in Rajasthan before taking charge of BCCI’s Anti-corruption Unit in April 2018, suggested this after 12 cricketers, including national and international, reported corrupt approaches in the last one year in TNPL.
The league came under scanner for suspect activity and a woman cricketer reported an approach from a bookie.
Numerous cases of spot-fixing and match-fixing came into light from the leagues of Mumbai, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu this year. Have these incidents become unstoppable in the country?
“It is not unstoppable. We probably require a law against it, a match-fixing law. If there is a clear law against it, police will also have a clear cut role,” Shekhawat said.
In 2018, it was expressed by the Law Commission of India that match-fixing needs to be made a criminal offence, like it is in England and Australia.
Legalised betting is another way to deal with corruption in the game, said Shekhawat.
“Maybe there could be a thinking about legalising gambling so that all this illegal business which goes on can be controlled. Legal betting will be done under some parameters and it can be controlled.”
“It will also bring a huge amount of revenue for the government, close to what the excise department generates. The amount of money which is bet on sports is mindboggling,” said the retired IPS officer.
According to him, a move like this would also help keep a tab on the people involved as well as the money.
“Revenue is not the only consideration, there could be other issues which the government has in mind. I am not saying categorically that it should be legalised but it should be considered. It could be regulated when it is legalised, right now it is totally illegal.”
“Once it is legalised you will also get the data on who is betting and how much is he betting. And while doing that, make illegal betting tougher. Right now you can get away with a fine of few hundreds or a few thousands,” he said.
News of such cases have been rampant in men’s cricket but now even women’s game is not immune to the menace. In February this year, an Indian women’s cricketer reported an approach of corruption made to the BCCI, and prompted the ICC to conduct an inquiry.
On Monday (September 16), an FIR was lodged against two individuals in the matter.
“Anything which is given wide publicity, which is telecast live, it lends itself to betting and once something lends itself to betting then it could be anything. If they find out that it is getting tough to make headway in mens cricket, they may try to go to women’s cricket.”
“If that is also tough, they may try the state leagues and if that is also proving to be tough, they may they have their own league like it was in the case of Rajputana league,” he pointed out.
Since the BCCI’s ACU came under the ambit of Shekhawat, the board has seen a lot of changes in its functioning. The department has more staff now, eight personnel to be precise, and it plans to recruit 5-6 more in the near future.
“This is the first time we have totally taken over the anti-corruption of the state run leagues. It is also the first time our officials are staying at the team hotels to keep a watch on the players.”
“We also organise anti-corruption classes for the participants. We tell them what anti-corruption code is, what the penalties are and what are the responsibilities cast upon each of the participants,” he explained
“Like when an approach is made, it is incumbent upon the participant to report it. If he doesnt report it, it is an offence and he could be penalised. Due to anti-corruption classes, the players have started reporting approaches,” Shekhawat added.