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Match-fixing case: 'Bookie' Chawla in Delhi Police net after evading arrest for nearly 2 decades

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Alleged bookie Sanjeev Chawla, a key accused in one of cricket's biggest match-fixing scandals that involved former South African captain Hansie Cronje, was brought here by a Delhi Police team from the UK on Thursday, making it the first high-profile extradition of its kind between the two countries.

The 50-year-old British national, evading the Indian law net for nearly two decades, reached the national capital in the morning.

After completing the formalities, he was taken to the AIIMS for a medical check-up.

The crime branch also questioned Chawla at its RK Puram office and he was later taken to the Patiala House court which remanded him in police custody for 12 days.

Tihar Prison Director General Sandeep Goel said Chawla will be placed in a separate cell.

"According to the extradition treaty, all basic facilities will be ensured and consular access will be provided. Safety and security will be ensured. The inmate will be kept in a separate cell," Goel told PTI.

Chawla was "absolutely normal" during his journey to Delhi, police said.

"He had food twice in the flight. He also had lunch after his medical test. He is normal and not under stress. He will be questioned in detail now by the crime branch," DCP (crime branch) Ram Gopal Naik said.

The Delhi-born businessman was seen wearing an anti-pollution mask as he stepped out of the airport.

Chawla is alleged to have played a central role in conspiring with Cronje to fix a South African tour to India in February-March 2000. The police told the court that Chawla was allegedly involved in fixing five matches.

"He will be taken to five locations, starting Mumbai, where matches were played in the series, and confronted with certain people in order to unearth the larger conspiracy," Naik told reporters.

The case dates back to 2000 when while probing an extortion racket, Delhi Police intercepted telephonic conversations of Chawla and Cronje, which led to the unearthing of one of the biggest scandals that rocked the cricketing world.

The police filed a charge sheet in 2013, which named Rajesh Kalra, Kishan Kumar -- younger brother of slain T-Series owner Gulshan Kumar --, Sunil Dara, Chawla, Cronje and Manmohan Khattar.

"Kalra, Kumar and Dara are out on bail. Khattar still remains at large and he could be hiding in the US," Naik said.

Chawla had managed to evade the police for 19 years. He moved to the UK on a business visa in 1996, but continued to make trips to India.

After his Indian passport was revoked in 2000, he obtained a British passport five years later.

Chawla's extradition is the first high-profile extradition of its kind under the India-UK Extradition Treaty, signed in 1992.

The extradition process, which started in 2013, finally bore fruit six years later.

"We filed pleas in the Westminister Court in 2013. We also appealed to High Court of Justice Queen's Bench division in London. In January 2020, his extradition was approved. On February 12, the Delhi Crime Branch received custody of Chawla in London though the Metropolitan Police London," Naik, who led the team that went to London on February 9, said.

Chawla made several appeals against his extradition, first to the European Court of Human Rights, which rejected his application.

He lost a last-ditch appeal against former UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid's extradition order in London last month.

He had sought to argue against his extradition to India on human rights grounds in the UK courts ever since his arrest in June 2016.

On January 16, a two-member court panel said they accepted the assurances provided by India that Chawla would be accommodated in a cell to be occupied exclusively by him, with proper "safety and security" and complying with the "personal space and hygiene requirements" the court expects.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, February 13 2020. 22:04 IST
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