The practices such as match-fixing, spot-fixing are bringing a bad reputation to the game and these are considered as heinous crimes in the world of cricket. M.S.Dhoni, former captain of the Indian cricket team once said “The biggest crime a cricket player can commit is not murder but match-fixing.”
Sports law is a set of laws applicable to athletes and the sports they play. Sports law involves several legal accepts including contracts, torts, agency, tax etc.  Unlike many other developed countries, India does not have a sports law to govern unfair practices in sports.
Match-fixing is manipulation of a sport match outcome which can be done by competitors, umpires, team officials, match officials, or by any other interested party, to gain a financial benefit out of it . Match-fixing is directly linked with gambling which is illegal in India. Whether it is better to legalize betting and gambling in India is a different topic all together.
- A BRIEF HISTORY
In India, Cricket is governed by the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) which is established under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act in the year 1928. BCCI is responsible for the management of events, selection of players, control on all forms of cricket and also on who will represent India in the international matches such as ODI’s, 20-20, and test matches. It enjoys monopoly of regulation of cricket in India.
Match-fixing is not an unknown event, it occurred not only in cricket but also in many other sports, it is deemed as old as the sport itself. The first instance ever of match-fixing was witnessed in ‘The Black Sox Scandal’ , in the year 1919, where in a baseball match, Chicago White Sox willingly lost to Cincinnati Reds with a score of 9:1, and later the team admitted that they were involved in the fixing.
The first incident which came to light in the field of Cricket, was in the year 1998, in which Shane Warne and Mark Waugh  where found guilty for giving out information about the weather and pitch condition to the Indian bookmakers. Australian Cricket Board imposed fine and warned them about their actions.
These days, the unfair practices according to me, are not only committed with the intent to cheat or involves money but the usage of the existing rules to win, would also according to me, amount to being involved in unfair practices.
- INDIAN LEGISLATION RELATING TO SPORTS
In India there are meagre legislative enactments relating to issues such as gambling, match-fixing and corruption in sports. There is no law defining and punishing acts such as fixing in sport and manipulation of sport results in India. In the light of such absence, let’s see a few Acts and provisions which are applicable to sport fraud and corruption.
The Indian Penal Code has few provisions which talk about ‘Cheating’ and ‘Criminal Conspiracy’ defined under Section 415 and Section 120-A, which is a frequently invoked Section for match-fixing as it requires that the offence should be directed to a particular person but match-fixing is not something which is directed to a particular person, it is directed to the public at large and it also requires the transfer of property from the victim to the accused. Such definition of Cheating is ambiguous and the offence of match-fixing according to the strict interpretation of the language of the Code does not make it eligible to be included in Cheating and now coming to section 120-A, as match-fixing is not an offence under Section 415, the question of it being illegal under 120-A does not arise .
Talking about The Public Gambling Act of 1867, which was introduced to illegalize gambling in India. This law restricts all types of gambling visiting, playing, hosting and all other kinds of gambling are covered in The Public Gambling Act. However, the Public Gambling Act states that, it would not apply to games involving mere “skill” which means that The Public Gambling Act shall not apply to Cricket as there no discrepancy on the fact that Cricket is a game which involves skill and would hence, not come under the preview of The Public Gambling Act.
Now, let’s look at the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 the main objective of the Act is to prevent corruption in public sector and public offices and according to Section 3 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, this Act is only applicable to public servants and Cricketers will not come under the blanket of public servants as in the case of Zee Telefilms Ltd v. Union of India , it was held that BCCI is not a state as per Article 12 of the Constitution of India. BCCI might be discharging public functions but cricketers under the BCCI shall not come under the category of public servants and due to which this legislation will not apply to match-fixing in cricket.
No were in the Indian legislations, the offence of match-fixing is defined and the only place where it is defined is the CBI Reports on match-fixing allegations. These were taken from the Indian cricketers while the investigation was going on to come forward with a definition for match-fixing. It might be a very progressive thought, but the CBI has defined match-fixing as an act which can only be done by the players. It does not consider coaches, umpires, match officials, team officials. Even if we consider sticking to this definition of match-fixing, there will be many other people who would be involved in match-fixing but would never come under this blanket and would be scout free.
In 2013, the legislature has understood the importance of having a law relating to sport frauds happening in the country and they came up with the ‘Prevention of Sporting Fraud Bill’ of 2013 and the analysis of the law shows, lack of proper criminal justice mechanism to prosecute and prevent fraud in the name of sports to maintain the integrity in sport.
The draft of the Prevention of Sporting Fraud Bill, 2013 has been made with the intent to averting and combatting wearing extortion, influencing the honesty of sports and reasonable play in connection to national and universal games merits.
The Sport Fraud Bill provides for punishment of the manipulation of results and underperformance with an imprisonment and fine. It also punishes the leaking of insider information and the failure to report these kinds of offences is also punishable under the Bill. The Bill almost covers all the aspects which might be a possible offence that could be committed in sports.
As there are many athletes in India who come from a very rural background it is important to educate them with rules and regulations of the Act if implemented and the consequences of what would happen if they do not obey the rules which are laid down as these are the people who would be prone to this kind of extortion by coaches and senior players as they would not know who to go and complain and fall prey to them. Hence, that is why, the integrity of this wonderful sport must be intact.
In the light of the above scenarios, there is an immediate need for the bill to become an Act and to send a strong message to all those who are involved in this kind of syndicate that they will all be punished and to show that the legislature’s intent is clear to maintain the integrity of Sports in our country. It already has been six years from the time the bill was put forward, now it is the time to make that bill a law to show the world that we do not support this kind of behavior and we stand by to maintain integrity of sport.
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