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  Madhavan's Verdict on Match Fixing : The Complete Report  
 

 

ANALYSIS AND OPINION IN RESPECT OF EACH INDICTED PERSON.

31. Dog eating dog appears also to have been the yet another guiding principle. In the CBI report as set out at Pages 54 to 96, the gist of the statements recorded by the CBI of S/Shri Ajay Sharma (Page 54), Manoj Prabhakar (Page 62), Mohd. Azharuddin (Page 68), Dr. Ali Irani (Page 71), Ajay Jadeja (Page 76), Nikhil Chopra (page 78), Nayan Mongia (Page 79), Navjyot Singh Sidhu (Page 80), Ajit Wadekar (Page 81), Prashat Vaidya (Page 83), Ravi Shastri (Page 84), Kapil Dev (Page 85), Sachin Tendulkar (Page 88), Maninder Singh (Page 90), Kirti Azad (Page 90), Atul Wassan (Page 91), I.S. Bindra (Page 91), Sunil Dev (Page 94) and Madhav Rao Scindia (page 95). The gist of the statement of Ram Adhar @ Choudhary of Feroze Shah Kotla ground has been set out by the CBI at Page 35. Among these, the most relevant are the statements of the 5 indicted players, Dr. Ali Irani and Ram Adhar.

32. In the analysis of the evidence in respect of each indicted person, I shall be setting out their statements as recorded by CBI, their reaction to such statements when I examined them, my view in respect of the version put forth by them before the CBI on the one hand and before me on the other and my finding regarding their guilt or otherwise. I shall do so with copies of the original statements recorded by the CBI and not on the basis of the salient features of their statements as set out in the CBI report. These statements as well as the statements of the relevant bookies/punters are placed in Volume - II of my report. I may mention that while giving me these copies CBI had masked the signature, designation etc. of the CBI officer who recorded the statement.

33. In this context, I am enclosing in Volume - III of this report the statements of the indicted persons as recorded by the CBI and as recorded by me as per details furnished below:-

Sl.No. Name of the indicted Page No. in Vol.-II Page No. in Vol.-III where the statement where the statements as recorded by me as recorded by CBI appears appears
(i) Ajay Sharma 001-007 001-017
(ii) Manoj Prabhakar 008-015 018-047
(iii) Mohd. Azharuddin 016-020 048-088
(iv) Dr. Ali Irani 021-025 089-095
(v) Ajay Jadeja 026-031 096-123
(vi) Nayan Mongia 032-035 124-132
(vii) Ram Adhar @ Choudhary 036 133-134

34. It is suggested that for a comprehensive appreciation of this report, the aforesaid statements may be perused. In this report, I shall no doubt refer to the relevant and the salient features of the statements of the said persons.

35. I shall analyse the role of each indicted person in the order in which CBI has done at Pages 97 to 124 of the report of CBI.

AJAY SHARMA

36. I recorded the statement of Ajay Sharma on 18th November, 2000 at the NSG Officers Mess, near Terminal - 2, IGI Airport, New Delhi.

37. CBI has analysed the evidence against Ajay Sharma at Pages 97-103 in the report.

38. In the statement of Ajay Sharma recorded by the CBI, he mentioned at Para - 2 about how he scored a quick century in the Ram Charan Aggarwal Tournament and when he was returning to the pavilion, M.K. Gupta had stuffed some money in his pocket. In the statement, Ajay Sharma is silent about the quantum of money that M.K. had stuffed in his pocket. However, M.K. himself stated (at Pages 15-16 of the CBI report) that the amount was Rs. 2000. However, at Para 7 of the statement recorded by me, Ajay Sharma stated that some persons had put money in his pockets and one of them was M.K., as conveyed to Ajay Sharma by his friend Sanjay Bharadwaj. Ajay Sharma stated that when the money was counted, it was around Rs. 1,300. My opinion in this regard is that irrespective of the quantum of money which M.K. had stuffed in the pocket of Ajay Sharma, Ajay Sharma cannot be faulted for what took place as he was a very young man and there is nothing wrong if fans stuff some small amounts of money in the pockets of a player, who had played well. It was a token of their appreciation of his game. He cannot push them off. This took place in the late-eighties. MK however had long range plans.

39. However, what is more relevant in this part of the statement of Ajay Sharma recorded by me is the following (at Para 7).

"I had not known M.K. I have never known M.K. Gupta by the said name or by the name M.K. or John. I cannot identify M.K. Gupta even now."

40. With this statement which Ajay Sharma made right at the commencement of his statement recorded by me, he washed his hands off in respect of M.K. Gupta and what he stated before the CBI about their contacts. In particular, Ajay Sharma has denied the following in relation to M.K.

41. He stated that each and every part of his statement as recorded by CBI regarding the contacts between him and M.K. as well as the introductions made by him of various persons with M.K. and other transactions between M.K. and himself on the one hand and various other players on the other are all false.

42. Similarly, in respect of Ajay Gupta also, he stated that he knew Ajay Gupta only because the latter's son was being trained by Ajay Sharma in the Roshanara Club. He mentioned in the statement recorded by me that he did not introduce Ajay Gupta to Azharuddin as mentioned in his statement recorded by the CBI.

43. He stated before me that he did not tell the CBI that he had received various amounts from M.K. or Ajay Gupta as appearing in his statement recorded by the CBI.

44. He has also denied in his statement recorded by me that he did make telephone calls to Azharuddin but it had nothing to do with cricket and was in relation to an injury sustained by Ajay Sharma's son Manan Sharma on 9th March, 2000.

45.Ajay Sharma has denied all the allegations held by the CBI as proved against him in the analysis of evidence in the CBI report at Pages 97-103.

46. From the statement of Ajay Sharma recorded by me, it will be seen that he has chosen to admit before me only those portions of his statement recorded by the CBI, such as telephone calls, which he knew could not be denied as CBI has computer printouts of such telephone calls.

47. I am now setting out the salient features of the analysis of evidence against Ajay Sharma as appearing in the CBI report at Pages 97-103.

48. M.K. stated before CBI that during the India tour of New Zealand in 1990, Ajay Sharma used to telephonically provide him information about the weather, pitch, team composition etc. Ajay Sharma, in his statement before CBI, has said that it was not he but his roommate Manoj Prabhakar who used to provide said information to M.K. CBI has expressed the view that this appears unlikely as Manoj Prabhakar had not been personally introduced to M.K. till then and he had only a telephonic introduction through Ajay Sharma. CBI has therefore, concluded that M.K.'s statement seems more plausible. I am inclined to agree with CBI, because from the point of view of M.K., it did not matter whether he took the name of Ajay Sharma or Manoj Prabhakar, as the crux of the allegation is the information received by him.

49. CBI has correctly concluded that Manoj Prabhakar was introduced to M.K. by Ajay Sharma sometime after the New Zealand tour in 1990 but before the Indian team's tour of England in 1990.

50. M.K. however, stated before the CBI that the Delhi-Bombay Ranji Trophy Quarter Final match played in Delhi in 1991 was intentionally lost by Delhi as some of the players were committed to playing league cricket matches in England, the dates of which were clashing with the dates of further Ranji Trophy matches. Ajay Sharma was a member of the Delhi team and he confirmed before the CBI the same fact.

51. However, in the statement recorded by me, Ajay Sharma stated that this was not so and the Delhi team lost the match in the normal course. He also pointed out the he had himself scored 57 runs. In so far as this match is concerned, the allegation is not one of match fixing or wilfully losing the match due to money having passed hands. This can utmost be a illustration of how players lose matches when their own self-interest took precedence and dictated their behaviour. M.K. would no doubt have benefitted by the advance information he had. I do not believe Ajay Sharma's statement that Delhi lost the match in normal course.

52. M.K. had stated before CBI that Ajay Sharma had introduced Azharuddin to him sometime in 1995 at Hotel Taj Palace, New Delhi. Both Ajay Sharma and Azharuddin admitted this in their statements recorded by the CBI. However, both have mentioned in their statements recorded by me that they never gave such statements to CBI. According to M.K. he paid a sum of Rs. 5 lakhs to Ajay Sharma for the said introduction. Ajay Sharma admitted this before CBI; but before me he denied having stated so to the CBI.

53. M.K. had further mentioned to the CBI that Ajay Sharma accompanied him to Hyderabad to meet and settle issues with Azharuddin after the Titan Cup series in 1996, when matches did not work out as planned between Azharuddin and M.K. Ajay Sharma accepted this in his statement recorded by the CBI but before me, he stated that he had never stated so to the CBI.

54. M.K. further stated before CBI that in 1996, during the India-Australia Test at Feroze Shah Kotla, Delhi he got a result-oriented pitch prepared in connivance with Ajay Sharma and Ram Adhar @ Choudhary, groundsman of Feroze Shah Kotla ground. Both Ajay Sharma and Choudhary accepted this fact before CBI but Ajay Sharma stated before me that he had never stated so before CBI. Ram Adhar said that his statement to that effect was obtained by CBI by using third degree methods. Ajay Sharma also conceded before CBI that he received Rs. 3 lakhs from M.K. for the said arrangement and he paid Choudhary Rs. 50,000. In the statement recorded by CBI, Choudhary admitted that he received Rs. 50,000 from Ajay Sharma. However in the statements of Ajay Sharma and Choudhary recorded by me both have denied having stated so before CBI. It is relevant to state that the said test ended in about 3- days time with India emerging as winners. Later in this report, I would be exonerating Ram Adhar of manipulating the pitch. Consequently, I exonerate Ajay Sharma also in respect of this allegation.

55. M.K. also told CBI that sometime in 1996, Ajay Sharma had brought Ajay Jadeja to the residence of M.K. at C-538, Defence Colony, New Delhi for introducing M.K. to Ajay Jadeja. Ajay Sharma admitted this before CBI. Ajay Sharma also stated that M.K. had paid Rs. 50,000 to Ajay Jadeja out of which the latter paid Rs. 18,000 to Ajay Sharma. Before me however, Ajay Sharma stated that he had never made such admission before CBI.

56. From the circumstantial evidence, MK's statement before CBI and Ajay Sharma's demeanour when I examined him I find him guilty of such incriminating contacts and transactions with MK, except in respect of the allegation of manipulating the pitch. Para 54 above refers in this regard.

57. Ajay Sharma however, admitted before me that he also knew Ajay Gupta but not in the manner in which CBI has concluded but only because Ajay Sharma coached Ajay Gupta's son in the Roshanara Club. Before the CBI, Ajay Sharma stated that he introduced Azharuddin to Ajay Gupta and others sometime in 1998 at Hotel Taj Palace in New Delhi. This was corroborated before the CBI by Sanjay Anand, a members of Roshanara Club, who is a common friend of Ajay Sharma and Guptas. Before me also, Ajay Sharma admitted that he knew Sanjay Anand. Ajay Sharma admitted before CBI that both he and Sanjay Anand received Rs. 5 lakhs each from the Guptas for the said introduction. However, before me Ajay Sharma denied having stated so to the CBI. Sanjay Anand however, denied even before CBI of having received such money from the Guptas. This was contradicted by Nishit Goel when he was present at the meeting which Ajay Gupta had with Ajay Sharma, Sanjay Anand and others wherein it was decided that both Ajay Sharma and Sanjay Anand would be paid Rs. 5 lakhs each for introducing Azharuddin and that, after a few months Sanjay Anand had confirmed to Nishit Goel of having received the amount.

58. CBI has stated in its report that the nexus between Ajay Sharma and Ajay Gupta is further corroborated by documentary evidence in the form of an affidavit filed by Ajay Gupta with the Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) where Ajay Sharma is employed, in which Ajay Gupta offered to bear the expenditure of Ajay Sharma's visit to England during the World Cup, 1999. CBI has stated that Ajay Sharma in his statement, had accepted that Ajay Gupta had financed his and his family's visit to England in 1999 during the World Cup. Ajay Sharma had also admitted before the CBI that cell phone 9811195929, which was robbed from him at Gurgaon in January 2000 was provided to him by Ajay Gupta. Ajay Sharma had also accepted before the CBI that his "recent" calls to Azharuddin were to wish him "All the Best" and to find out whether he had spoken to the Guptas. CBI has concluded "All these facts clearly establish Ajay Sharma's nexus with the Guptas and his role as a middleman".

59. CBI has furnished to me a copy of the affidavit given by Ajay Gupta in this regard to CWC. Copy thereof is placed at page 17 of Volume-II.

60. When I questioned Ajay Sharma on these aspects, he stated (at para 18 of his statement), that it is correct that Ajay Gupta gave an affidavit dated 24.9.99 to CWC that he would bear the expenditure of the visit to UK of Ajay Sharma and his family and that the said expenditure would be borne by him out of his personal savings and due to love and affection. This affidavit was given by Ajay Gupta to enable Ajay Sharma to get leave and NOC from CWC. Ajay Sharma stated that it is correct that Ajay Gupta had borne the expenditure as above. Ajay Sharma added, "however, he had told me that I may pay him the money later". Ajay Sharma stated that in England there was no boarding and lodging expenses as he and his family stayed with Mr. Pankaj Tripathi in Burnley, near Manchester. He added that the air tickets were obtained through a travel agency firm, the name of which Ajay Sharma does not remember. But the owner of the said firm was one Prakash of Rajinder Nagar. Ajay Sharma stated further before me, "I have not yet paid the money to Ajay Gupta and it is still outstanding".

61. It would be found from the above that Ajay Sharma admitted before me most of what he stated before the CBI in this regard but changed the facts slightly to make it appear as if it was a loan to be repaid to Ajay Gupta. It is clear that Ajay Sharma has been legally advised that as a public servant, it was irregular on his part to obtain free tickets and hospitality from Ajay Gupta and it is for this reason that he stated before me that he was to pay the amount of the tickets to Ajay Gupta but it is still outstanding. Besides, acceptance of this gift would also prove his proximity to Ajay Gupta. I am not inclined to accept the version stated before me by Ajay Sharma. It is clear that it was a gift from Ajay Gupta for services rendered to him by Ajay Sharma.

62. Regarding the cell phone which was robbed from him in Gurgaon, Ajay Sharma stated that the cell phone as well as Opel Astra car were robbed from him at gun point. The car belonged to Divya Nautiyal's finance company and the cell phone instrument belonged to Ajay Gupta. Ajay Gupta had given to Ajay Sharma only the instrument for temporary use. The SIM card, which Ajay Sharma used therein, was his own. Ajay Sharma added that he had not invested Rs. 5 lakhs with Divya Nautiyal as recorded in his statement by the CBI. Ajay Sharma added that therefore the question of his getting back Rs. 1.5 lakhs from Divya Nautiyal did not arise. He further stated before me that if there is something in Manoj Prabhakar's tapes about Azharuddin making investment with Divya Nautiyal through Ajay Sharma, it was not correct. Ajay Sharma also stated before me, "it is correct however that myself and Azharuddin were not on good terms with Manoj Prabhakar".

63. Regarding his telephone conversations with Azharuddin referred to above, Ajay Sharma stated that this was in March 2000 when the Ranji Trophy match between Delhi and Karnataka was held in Bangalore. Ajay Sharma was to leave for Karnataka on 9.3.2000. However, as Manan Sharma, the 9 year old son of Ajay Sharma, got injured in the genitals while playing and the injury became serious and required admission and treatment in Mann Hospital, Roop Nagar, Ajay Sharma cancelled his visit to Bangalore. He said that his calls to Azharuddin were in connection with his son's injury and treatment. Ajay Sharma added, "I did not ask whether he had spoken to the Guptas about the match". It may be stated that in the statement recorded by the CBI, Ajay Sharma had stated to the contrary. He added before me that he also spoke to Azharuddin many times regarding the benefit match for Gursharan and Vivek Razdan.

64. It appears to be a fact that Ajay Sharma's son got injured as stated by him before me. However, this did not require many calls to Azharuddin. Even wishing, "All the Best" did not require many calls. I do not believe what Ajay Sharma mentioned in this regard before me. I am inclined to agree with the CBI that all these facts clearly establish Ajay Sharma's nexus with the Guptas and his role as a middleman, including for Azharuddin.

65. The analysis by the CBI proceeds to state (at Page 102) that there is further documentary proof of Ajay Sharma's nexus with the Guptas in the form of numerous telephonic calls between them as reflected in the cell phone printouts. Ajay Sharma had made a number of calls to Ajay Gupta and Ameesh Gupta, especially just before or during cricket matches. CBI states that Ajay Sharma made two calls to Ajay Gupta on 14th March, 2000. This was one day prior to the third one-day international match between India-South Africa at Faridabad. Similarly, Ajay Sharma had made two calls to Ajay Gupta on 22nd March, 2000, when India was playing a one-day international match against South Africa at Sharjah.

66. When this passage in the CBI report was read out by me to Ajay Sharma, he stated that the two calls made by him to Ajay Gupta on 14th March, 2000 related to his son having been admitted in the hospital at that time. Regarding the two calls made by him to Ajay Gupta on 22nd March 2000, they could also be about his son or some other general talk.

67. It is relevant to mention that CBI has mentioned specifically only regarding four calls among a number of calls made by Ajay Sharma to Ajay Gupta and Ameesh Gupta. Obviously, all of them cannot relate to Ajay Sharma's son's illness. If Ajay Sharma's only acquaintance with Ajay Gupta was because Ajay Sharma was coaching Ajay Gupta's son in Roshanara Club, it did not require frequent contacts with Ajay Gupta and Ameesh Gupta over the cell phone.

68. At this stage, I have to deal with another tangential allegation against Ajay Sharma which is reported by the CBI at Page 98 of the report. M.K. had conveyed to CBI that sometime in 1995, Ajay Sharma renewed his contacts with M.K. and asked for Rs. 15,000 to pay for a Zen car on which there was a 'black' of Rs. 15,000. CBI also adds that Ajay Sharma accepted this in his statement, although he stated the year as 1993-94.

69. On this aspect, Ajay Sharma stated before me that he did not take Rs. 15,000 from M.K. The car was purchased by Ajay Sharma in his own name for Rs. 3,04,235 from Rohan Motors Ltd. Vide invoice no. 5901 dated 6th December, 1993. The registration number of the car was DL 8C 1838. Ajay Sharma still has the car even now. He showed me the originals of the invoice and the RC and handed over to me attested photocopies thereof. On scrutiny, I found that the invoice was in the name of Ajay Sharma himself and not in the name of any other person which would normally have been the case if there had been a 'black'. Similarly, the RC is also in the name of Ajay Sharma. Copies thereof are enclosed with Ajay Sharma's statement in Volume-III. Consequent upon this, I would give the benefit of doubt in this regard to Ajay Sharma and hold that this particular allegation of M.K. paying Rs. 15,000 to Ajay Sharma is not proved even by the theory of evidence of preponderance of probabilities.

70. At the end of the analysis of the evidence in respect of the Ajay Sharma, CBI has concluded that the evidence against Ajay Sharma has to be looked into in the context of his cricket career. Ajay Sharma had played only one test and 33 one-day internationals. Due to the limited number of matches he had played, CBI concludes that no evidence of his role in fixing matches in which he has played has come up. CBI has concluded, "however, the facts disclosed in the inquiry, clearly establish that Ajay Sharma acted as a conduit between the players and the betting syndicates in fixing matches".

71. When this passage was read out to Ajay Sharma, he stated that he had already stated before me that a large part of his statement as recorded by the CBI about his contacts with bookies/punters on the one hand and the players on the other is incorrect and wrongly recorded by CBI. He denied that he had acted as conduit between the players and the betting syndicates in fixing matches.

72. In reply to my last query whether he would like to add anything further, Ajay Sharma stated that his close friendship with Azharuddin had been misinterpreted on the basis of incorrect evidence and inferences that it related to match fixing etc. Neither Ajay Sharma nor Azharuddin had done any such thing. Ajay Sharma added that he had devoted the best years of his life to the game of cricket and had scored more than 10,000 runs in first class matches. His average in first class and international matches put together is 68.50. Ajay Sharma stated that this record is third in the world, the first being of Sir Donald Bradman and the second of Vijay Merchant. Ajay Sharma added that he had scored 31 centuries in Ranji matches, which is the best record in India. He concluded, "I have never helped in match fixing. I am not aware of any other player also resorting to match fixing".

73. The pointed issue in this inquiry is not the capability or record of the concerned players. In fact, the very fact that all the five players involved in this enquiry were in the national team clearly shows that each one of them had an excellent record in their own areas of specialisation in the game of cricket. The enquiry, on the other hand, is about misconduct or offence committed by them in the matter of match fixing and betting and also maintaining undesirable and frequent contacts with bookies/punters which was unbecoming for a national level player like Ajay Sharma.

74. Therefore, while I take my hat off for the excellent record of the concerned players, including Ajay Sharma, I have to fault them where the evidence indicates their culpability. Mike Tyson is a great boxer; but he had to pay the price when he committed a crime. Ben Johnson had to suffer also.

75. My final opinion regarding the role of Ajay Sharma in this regard is as under:-
(i) I agree with the CBI that there is no evidence of any role by him in fixing matches in which he had played.
(ii) I agree with the CBI that he had close contacts and nexus with bookies/punters M.K. Gupta and Ajay Gupta and his associates and acted as a conduit between players and the betting syndicates in fixing matches.
(iii) Irrespective of the allegations established as above, he is guilty also of unbecoming conduct amounting to misconduct as a national level player in as much as he maintained frequent and undesirable contacts with bookies/punters.

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