New Delhi, June 7 (IANS) Even as the Rajasthan Royals management Friday threatened to suspend its co-owner Raj Kundra if found guilty of “betting and spot fixing”, Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar confirmed the British national cannot be arrested until they have material evidence against him.
In a related development, Delhi Police got the custody of alleged bookie Ramesh Vyas, who was arrested by the Crime Branch of Mumbai police May 18, and is being brought to the Capital.
A police officer said Vyas, who was allegedly handling the south Indian betting syndicate of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, was handed over to Delhi Police Friday.
Rajasthan Royals chairman Ranjit Barthakur and chief executive Raghu Iyer in a joint statement said Kundra was only a minority shareholder (11.7 percent) and he is not involved in the running of the team, while the Delhi Police chief said though Kundra admitted to betting on his team, he could not be arrested on mere suspicion.
Stating that as an Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise the same rules apply for players, management and owners, Barthakur and Iyer said they were working hard as co-complainants to ensure that all information was made available to the investigating authorities.
“In the last few days, various members of the RR management have been assisting the Delhi Police in their investigation for a better appreciation and understanding of the matter. As we have stated before, we are cooperating with the authorities to ensure a thorough enquiry and will continue to share any such information that they may seek from us in the future,” the franchise said in a statement.
“As such, our actions will be consistent as in the case of the spot fixing allegations with respect to our players. Mr. Raj Kundra is a minority (11.7%) shareholder, and he has no involvement in the running of the franchise. We believe that Mr. Raj Kundra is a law abiding citizen and would not act contrary to law. If however, he is proven guilty, or has breached any regulations, he will be suspended and he will also forfeit his shares. This is a strict governance procedure agreed to by all Rajasthan Royals shareholders, and it is consistent with our zero tolerance approach,” the statement read.
The spot fixing scandal in the IPL broke out May 16 with the arrest of three Rajasthan Royals cricketers Shantakumaran Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila.
In Delhi, the police commissioner reiterated that even though Kundra admitted to betting, they need some material evidence against him.
“Kundra has admitted of his involvement in some betting, but there is no evidence to support his disclosure. Without supportive evidence, we cannot arrest anyone on the grounds of suspicion,” Neeraj Kumar said.
Clarifying why the players were arrested, Neeraj Kumar said it was done on the basis of video footage and telephonic intercepts as corroborative evidence.
“In the case of the players… we had the video footage to match whatever transpired during the telephonic conversation. If that kind of evidence would have been there in respect of Kundra then we would have thought of arresting him,” he told a news channel.
“As for the investigation, we will go after somebody if we have the material evidence to back our investigation,” he added.
Neerraj Kumar also added that their focus is not on Kundra, though they have impounded his passport after grilling him for over 10 hours on Wednesday.
“Our focus is not on Kundra. He figured in the investigation so we thought we would speak to him,” Neeraj Kumar said.
As for interrogating Kundra’s wife Shilpa Shetty, Neerraj Kumar said no decision had been taken yet whether to question the Bollywood actress, though a colleague of his said that she could be called if they feel like as she had placed a bet of Rs. 1 lakh on one of the IPL games.
“We are yet to decide whether to call her for investigation. We always keep our options open… Ours is not a short-term investigation, which will close in three or four days. It is going to take time. Let’s see how things unfold,” Neeraj Kumar added.
Delhi Police had submitted Vyas’s production warrant in a Delhi court Tuesday seeking his custody.
Vyas was granted bail along with some other accused Tuesday, but he was not released as Delhi Police sought his custody the same day.
Mumbai police had seized 92 mobile phones and 18 SIM cards from Vyas after he was arrested May 18.
Exposing a turf-war between the Delhi Police and its Mumbai counterpasrt on the spot fixing case, Delhi Police sources claimed that they have been trying to take custody of Vyas, who was lodged in Mumbai’s Arthur Jail Road, for the past three days but they could not as their counterparts raised procedural issues.
In all Delhi Police arrested 26 people, 24 of these are in judicial custody and Sreesanth’s friend Abhishek Shukla is on bail. Bookie Tinku Mandy is now in Mumbai Police custody.
All the 26 people arrested by Delhi Police were Tuesday booked under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act.
Altogether, 60 people have been arrested across the country in connection with the IPL spot fixing scandal.