REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONER, BCCI
111. It is unfortunate that CBI has not questioned MK regarding this allegation. I, therefore, hold that this allegation against Prabhakar is not proved.
112. MK further stated before CBI about the England tour of India in 1993. MK claimed that in two one-day matches in that series in Gwalior, Prabhakar had given information which turned out incorrect. However, in a one-dayer in Bangalore, his information proved correct. Unfortunately, CBI has not identified any of the three matches referred to in this part of the analysis. Prabhakar stated before me, "I never talked to MK as set out in this regard".
113. Towards the conclusion of the analysis of match fixing in respect of Prabhakar, CBI has stated as under:-
"As regards the word 'information' used by MK, it is difficult to believe that in an age when television has brought cricket to our drawing rooms and expert commentators thoroughly analyse various aspects of a match like pitch, team strength, probable result, etc., such information provided by a player is of any use to a Bookie. So, in this respect, it has to be construed that the word 'information' is a euphemism for underperforming or'fixing'."
114. Regarding this Prabhakar stated that this is wrong interpretation given by the CBI.
115. While it was thoroughly undesirable that Prabhakar maintained a close contact with MK, in a matter involving legal or quasi-legal analysis of a person's involvement in what could possibly be a crime or what could possibly be match fixing, I am afraid that neither an investigating agency like CBI, nor I as Commissioner, BCCI can interpret the evidence in the manner in which CBI has done. It is no doubt open to a layman and even for a journalist to state so in an article. Such quantum leap from one word to a more serious allegation, which would involve the suspect in such allegation, is not permitted. The general principle involved in such matters is that while hundreds of guilty persons may be allowed to escape, even one innocent person should not be found guilty or punished. On this principle, I am not in agreement with the interpretation given by CBI and the reasoning followed by CBI to arrive at such interpretation.
116. Having stated as above, I would now reiterate that is thoroughly undesirable for cricket players, particularly at national level, to maintain such close relationship with bookies/punters. They are role models to youngsters in general and budding cricketers in particular and should therefore be, to quote Shakespeare, beyond suspicion also. In this test Prabhakar fails and has therefore to be held guilty of misconduct.
117. CBI's analysis of the evidence proceeds to state further as under:
"Mukesh Kumar Gupta has referred to a number of instances when Prabhakar had introduced him to foreign players on payment of money. Prabhakar has stated that he used to receive money only when such introduction proved profitable to Mukesh Kumar Gupta. Mukesh Kumar Gupta has stated that the following players were introduced to him by Prabhakar.
(1) Arvinda D'silva : Mukesh Kumar Gupta has stated that Prabhakar had introduced Arvinda D'silva to him but Prabhakar in his statement has denied it.
(2) Salim Malik : Prabhakar introduced Malik during a match between Wills Cup winners of Pakistan and Wills Cup winners of India. This match took place in 1991 at Delhi. Prabhakar has accepted that he introduced Salim Malik to Mukesh Kumar Gupta.
(3) Dean Jones : Dean Jones was introduced by Prabhakar during a festival match at Sri Lanka and Prabhakar was paid a sum of Rs. 2 lacs. Mukesh Kumar Gupta has further stated that he and Prabhakar had come back to India in the same flight from Colombo after that tournament. Prabhakar has denied that he introduced Dean Jones, but accepted that he and Mukesh Kumar Gupta had come back to India by the same flight on one occasion from Sri Lanka.
(4) Brian Lara : Prabhakar introduced him to MK and Prabhakar has accepted it.
(5) Arjuna Ranatunga : Mukesh Kumar Gupta has stated that he was introduced by Prabhakar. Latter has denied it.
(6) Alec Stewart : Prabhakar introduced him. Accepted by Prabhakar
(7) Mark Waugh : MK was introduced to March Waugh by Prabhakar during a six-a-side tournament in Hong Kong. Prabhakar has accepted this in his statement.
(8) Gus Logie : Prabhakar had rung up Gus Logie from his (Prabhakar's) residence at Ghaziabad for an introduction to Mukesh Kumar Gupta but Logie refused to talk to him. Prabhakar has accepted this in his statement."
118. Regarding this, earlier in this opinion I have set out what Prabhakar stated before me. He has vaguely stated of making some introductions of some persons to others. He denied however, that he did so in respect of MK. He has also said that he had received only Diwali gifts from M.K. Prabhakar also admitted before me that he did make a call to Gus Logie at MK's request to find out the weather, but the call did not through.
119. From the evidence and circumstances, it is clear that Prabhakar was too much mixed up with M.K. and did make some introductions of players to him. In this regard I am inclined to accept as correct the analysis as above by CBI. For the same reasons as set out earlier, I therefore, hold Manoj Prabhakar guilty of misconduct.
120. The CBI report proceeds to state that Tipu Kohli has stated before CBI that he used to get information from Prabhakar about cricket matches especially during the England tour of India in 1993 and also paid him a sum of Rs. 1 lakhs on one occasion.
121. Regarding this Prabhakar stated before me he had known Tipu Kohli only during the past two years and therefore there is not question of Prabhakar giving him useful information in 1993.
122. Unfortunately, in the statement of Manoj Prabhakar recorded by CBI they have not asked him about the allegation of Tipu Kohli having paid Rs. 1 lakhs to Prabhakar. Consequently, I give the benefit of doubt to
Prabhakar in this regard and hold him not guilty.
123. CBI has documentary evidence of Manoj Prabhakar having made a number of calls to bookies/punters like Sanjeev Chawla, Rajesh Kalra, Sunil Dara and Rattan Mehta. I have already set out earlier Prabhakar's interpretation of the said calls. However, it should be noticed that the CBI report states that these calls were 'recent'. Prabhakar claims that these were in connection with his investigation and other matters. As these calls were recently made, whatever be the purpose of the calls and motivation, they were not made during the relevant time. Therefore, the said telephonic conversations cannot be the basis to hold Prabhakar guilty in the matter of match fixing. But his close contacts with bookies/punters are proved.
124. CBI has concluded "the evidence against Prabhakar discloses his nexus with a wide array of bookies/punters, which has contributed significantly to corrupting cricket in India and abroad".
125. Prabhakar in the statement recorded by me, has categorised the aforesaid conclusion as incorrect and unwarranted.
126. In the aforesaid opinion, I have already given my findings regarding the guilt or otherwise of Prabhakar in respect of the various allegations.
127. My final opinion regarding the role of Manoj Prabhakar in this regard is as under:-
(i) There is no evidence of any role by him in match fixing
(ii) I agree with CBI that he had close contacts and nexus with various bookies/punters.
(iii) Irrespective of the allegations established as at (ii) above, he is guilty of unbecoming conduct as a national level player in as much as he maintained frequent contacts with bookies/punters.
128. We have now to analyse the role of the leader of Indian cricketers for most part of the last decade. Reportedly an introvert and lone ranger, I found him pleasant mannered and externally calm during my interaction with him on 16th November, 2000 at Ramada Inn Manohar, Hyderabad. Barring a few minor hiccups in the process of making him appear before me, he finally presented himself before me at Hyderabad on 16th November, 2000 at about 12 noon, though I had summoned him at 9 a.m.
129. In the report of the CBI, his statement as recorded by the CBI is
appearing at Pages 68-71. I have had the benefit of getting his verbatim statement from CBI, which is placed at Pages 016-020 in Vol-II. His statement, as recorded by me, on 16th November, 2000 is placed at Pages 048-088 in Vol.-III.
130. Mohd. Azharuddin (Azhar for short) is a B.Com Graduate and graduated from Nizam College, Hyderabad in 1983. At the senior level, he represented Osmania University in 1980, started playing Ranji Trophy in 1981 and was selected for the national team in 1984. Since then, he has more or less continuously played for the country except on a few occasions when he was either dropped or due to health reasons. Recently, due to allegations of match fixing, he has again not been selected for the national team.
Mail Cricket Editor