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July 7, 1997


Prabhakar refuses to finger player as Chandrachud begins probe into betting scandal

Manoj Prabhakar has refused to divulge the name of the player who allegedly offered him Rs 2.5 million to play below his potential in a Singer Cup match against Pakistan in Colombo in 1994.

The former India all-rounder appeared before the Chandrachud Commission which began its inquiry in Delhi on Monday. The Board of Control for Cricket in India appointed former Supreme Court chief justice Y V Chandrachud last month to inquire into the allegations of match-fixing.

Prabhakar's lawyer Nitesh Gupta said the cricketer had refused to divulge the player's name despite repeated requests by Justice Chandrachud, as he was not in a position to prove his allegation.

''The player can file a case for libel which Prabhakar will certainly lose for lack of proof. According to the law, the onus to prove the case lies with my client,'' Gupta said.

Prabhakar, his lawyer said, stood by his accusations of match-fixing which appeared in the English weekly Outlook last month.

Asked whether match-fixing was in practice, Gupta said Prabhakar had told Justice Chandrachud "everything" and '' now it was up to the Commission to look into it.''

Earlier, emerging from his 45-minute meeting with the judge, Prabhakar told reporters, "I have told him everything I had to say.'' Asked whether he had named the team-mate who had allegedly offered him the money, he said, ''You ask him (Justice Chandrachud).''

Justice Chandrachud also heard Krishna Prasad, a correspondent for Outlook and former India captain Kapil Dev.

Talking to newspersons after the day's hearing, Justice Chandrachud said, '' it was a very useful day and whatever Outlook correspondent Krishna Prasad, Prabhakar and Kapil Dev told the Commission was extremely useful from my point of view.''

The judge said the central theme of the whole discussion was "all three displayed their love for the game and wanted to save this great game."

Asked if any names were mentioned, the judge said, ''I will not say anything on this.'' Asked whether the proceedings had been taped or any stenographer had taken notes, Justice Chandrachud said, ''I took the notes myself.''

Rediff On The NeT learns that a Board official was present when Krishna Prasad began his testimony before Justice Chandrachud at 11 am on Monday morning. Prasad told the judge that he would be able to speak frankly if the Board official was not present in the room, after which the BCCI mandarin removed himself from the proceedings.

Prasad spoke to the judge for three hours, handed him a sheaf of news reports and was told that Justice Chandrachud would need to speak to him again.

Asked whether the other players would be allowed to bring their lawyers while appearing before him, the judge said, ''nobody has asked for this.''

He justified Prabhakar's bringing his lawyer saying the former India player had told him he would not have been able to put forth his case succinctly in English. ''I know Hindi very well and can understand English as well, but I may not be able to speak so fluently before you and I do not want to commit any mistake. My lawyer will correct me in case of any mistake,'' Prabhakar had told Justice Chandrachud.

The judge said there was no time-frame for filing the final report of the Commission. ''As the Indian team is leaving for Sri Lanka on a two-month tour, I will be talking to former players, captains and administrators in the meanwhile,'' he said.

Asked when he would talk to former team manager Ajit Wadekar about his alleged phonetapping the players, the judge said, ''very soon.'' He said he would also request Sunil Gavaskar to appear before the Commission. The judge said he hoped to meet with Kapil Dev and Prabhakar again, but no date had been fixed.

Earlier, BCCI lawyer U N Banerjee said during the the hearing ''We analysed the allegations levelled by Prabhakar and subsequent reports.'' He was emphatic in saying that though no date had been fixed, the final report will definitely see the light of day by the year-end. Banerjee was happy that though the Commission had no legal sanction, everyone was "very co-operative."

Justice Chandrachud also hopes to quiz two wellknown sports journalists, Pradeep Magazine of The Pioneer and R Mohan of The Hindu during the course of his inquiry.

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