India getting ready for law against corruption in sport

India may finally enact legislation against corruption in sport soon, given that the international sports community is bringing some pressure on the Government to have an up to date law that criminalises, among other things, the scourge of match-fixing. If that happens, it will go a long way in preventing a repeat of the shameful instanced of fixing that reared their heads in Indian cricket in 2000 and, more recently, in Indian Premier League 2013.

“All sports will benefit from such legislation since law enforcement agencies and sports federations have been stumped by legal loopholes, if not the lack of regulatory laws themselves,” Paul Abbot, Chairman of Interpol-FIFA Integrity in Sport initiative, said at a media briefing after a workshop on Tackling Match Fixing and Corruption in Football here on Thursday.

“There has been recognition among the delegates at the workshop that current legislation in India is inadequate,” he told reporters. “We are pleased that Central Bureau of Investigation (India’s top investigating agency, CBI) is in the process of setting up a special unit to deal with corruption in sport and its Director Ranjit Sinha revealed that the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports is taking steps to bring in laws to deal with corruption in sport.”

Back in 2001, when the CBI investigated match-fixing in Indian cricket, its legal adviser analysed the provisions of Indian Penal Code section 120-A dealing with criminal conspiracy and IPC section 415 dealing with cheating and concluded that the facts in the case did not constitute an offence under the aforesaid sections of law.

The then Solicitor General of India Harish Salve was in broad agreement that no criminal charges under cheating or under the Gambling Act can be filed against anyone because of the nebulous position of law as well as the improbability of investigating agency being able to obtain sufficient legal evidence.

Mr Abbot said football could learn lessons on following good practices from cricket and cited the fact that professional cricketers’ contracts now include specific clauses against betting and fixing. “We were fortunate to have gained insights from International Cricket Council’s Anti-Corruption and Security Unit Chief YP Singh,” he said.

“Mr YP Singh emphasised the importance of raising awareness about the recognising approaches (from the criminal elements), resisting such approaches and reporting them as also the need for sports organisations to be equipped to respond  to such reports,” Mr Abbot said.

The Interpol-FIFA Integrity in Sport Chairman warned against under-estimating the complexity of match fixing. “It is very international and, unlike the law enforcers, the bad guys – organised crime – have no borders or rules that they are bound by when they exploit the betting markets and fiddle them,” Mr. Abbot said.