Court clears Sreesanth, two other players
New Delhi, July 25
A New Delhi court on Saturday cleared Test fast bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and two other players of spot-fixing during the Indian Premier League, a lawyer and media reports said.
Indian prosecutors had filed charges of cheating and conspiracy against the players over their alleged links to an organised crime syndicate during the 2013 edition of the Twenty20 competition. Two of Sreesanth’s teammates from the Rajasthan Royals franchise, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan, had also been charged along with bookmakers and underworld figures.
However the court hearing the case on Saturday ordered “dropping of all charges” against all the accused in the case, the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency said. “The judge has passed the order and discharged all the players. There is no case against the players now,” a defence lawyer told reporters outside the court. The three players were arrested in May 2013 along with scores of bookies as part of a police investigation into the spot-fixing scandal that caused outrage among fans in the cricket-mad nation. The players were later granted bail due to lack of evidence.
Gambling is mostly illegal in India, but betting on cricket matches thrives through underground networks of bookies. Spot-fixing, in which a specific part of a game but not the result is fixed, is also illegal. Sreesanth, who played 27 Tests for India, was alleged to have been paid tens of thousands of dollars after agreeing to deliberately bowl badly in an IPL match. Delhi police also alleged at the time of their arrest that his teammates agreed to similar deals in two other IPL matches.
The players welcomed the verdict on Saturday, hugging family members and friends. “It’s a huge relief. I have nothing against anybody. God willing I will return to cricket,” Sreesanth told India’s NDTV network. Chandila said “a bad dream” had come to an end, while Chavan said he was looking forward to being able to play again soon.