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Giving a jolt to Delhi Police, a court here on Saturday said it had failed to establish existence of a core crime syndicate of underworld Dawood Ibrahim and his aide Chhota Shakeel involved in betting and match-fixing in the 2013 IPL spot-fixing case.
Additional Sessions Judge Neena Bansal Krishna made the observation while discharging cricketers S. Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan, and 33 other accused - all of whom were out on bail.
Delhi Police charge sheeted them for cheating and conspiracy under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and provisions of the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) while alleging Dawood and Shakeel were behind the spot-fixing scandal.
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"Even if entire evidence of prosecution is accepted, then too it is not established that there exists a core crime syndicate of Dawood, Chhota Shakeel who have been indulging in the organized offence of betting and match fixing and also dealing with money so generated through hawala," the judge said in a 175-page order.
The court noted that Delhi Police has failed to establish any nexus or link between various accused with Dawood's aide Javed Chutani as part of organized group and said that a case under MCOCA is not made out.
However, it added that the best case could have been under Public Gambling Act, but "that also is not prima facie established from the evidence placed on record by the prosecution".
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The court also observed that the game of cricket is a game of skill and cannot be held as a game of chance, therefore it is exempted under a section of this act from the definition of gambling.
"In view of the huge vaccum of law in this regard in the realm of law, this court is helpless to proceed further under any of the penal statutes," it said.
"The offence of cheating is also not made out prima facie, even if the entire evidence of prosecution is admitted without formal proof," the court said.
The formal set of charges, running into 6,000 pages, named Sreesanth, Chandila and Chavan, among other 42 accused, in the scandal related to the IPL-6 held in 2013.
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Six accused, including Dawood, Shakeel and Chutani are on the run. Dawood and Shakeel have been declared proclaimed offenders in the case after police completed proceedings of their property attachment.