In a sensational development, Indian speester S Sreesanth and two of his Rajasthan Royals teammates were today arrested on charges of spot-fixing, throwing the cash-rich Indian Premier League into its biggest crisis till date.
The arrested cricketers and the bookies were sent to police custody for five days by a Delhi court for being quizzed in connection with the case. During the hearing, the special cell of Delhi police had sought seven days of custodial interrogation of the cricketers and others to unearth the entire conspiracy relating to spot- fixing.
A "shocked and saddened" BCCI today suspended pacer S Sreesanth and two other Rajasthan Royals players accused of spot-fixing in the IPL and vowed to take "strictest action" against them if found guilty after an inquiry.
"As of now, the 3 players viz; Ankeet Chavan, Ajit Chandila and S. Sreesanth stand suspended pending enquiry. All information required to bring the persons involved to book will be collected and strictest action will be taken, if found guilty," the BCCI said in a statement issued by Secretary Sanjay Jagdale.
A special cell of the Delhi police arrested Sreesanth and his teamates - Ajit Chadila and Ankeet Chavan - in Mumbai last night after their team's IPL match against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede stadium.
While Sreesanth was picked up from his friend's residence, Chavana and Chandila picked from the team hotel at Nariman Point. The cricketers and bookies have been charged under sections 420 (cheating) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code and are being flown in to Delhi for further questioning.
Asked whether any more players are involved in spot fixing, Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar told PTI through a text message, "not that we know of." Investigators said besides telephone records, they also have evidences of messages passed through BBM and Whatapp. The Delhi police source said that these players were under the scanner for their role in spot fixing in some of the earlier IPL match although they did not elaborate which matches were under scrutiny. The police have also arrested seven bookies in Mumbai and three bookies in Delhi in connection with the same case. They are looking for two more bookies in Delhi.
The development comes as a shock for the IPL authorities who have time and again grappled with controversies and scandals ever since the league was launched in 2008. IPL Chairman Rajiv Shukla said he was awaiting details on the incident.
Rajasthan Royals issued a statement in which they said that they are shocked by the development. "We have been informed that three of our players have been called in for investigation on spot fixing in matches. We are completely taken by surprise. We do not have the full facts at this point and are unable to confirm anything.
"We are in touch with the BCCI on this matter. We will fully cooperate with the authorities to ensure a thorough investigation. The management at Rajasthan Royals has a zero-tolerance approach to anything that is against the spirit of the game," the statement said.
Reacting to the developments, Rajasthan Royal owner Raj Kundra tweeted, "When asked the repeated question is IPL fixed my answer is always IPL teams CAN'T be fixed but individual players who lack integrity can.
"Just when IPL was going on so smoothly without controversies I woke up to the news of 3 RR players alleged spot fixing. Investigations are on," he said. Ever since the league began in 2008, almost all the seasons have been marred by controversies. Last year also five players were suspended on spot fixing charges. The players were, TP Sudhindra (Deccan Chargers), Mohnish Mishra (Pune Warriors), Amit Yadav, Shalabh Srivastava (Kings XI Punjab) and Abhinav Bali.
And it's not the first time that Sreesanth is at the centre of a controversy in the IPL. The temperamental paceman was involved in the infamous 'slapgate' in 2008. He was slapped by India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and TV cameras caught Sreesanth crying.
However, very recently Sreesanth claimed that he was never slapped but elbowed by the 'turbanator'. In the 2012 season, Australia's Luke Pomersbach was arrested for allegedly misbehaving with the woman, a US citizen of Indian origin, at the Maurya Sheraton Hotel. A case was registered against him under various sections of IPC including section 354 of IPC (outraging modesty of woman), 323 (hurt), 454 (lurking house trespass) and 511 (Punishment for attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or other imprisonment).
Then Bollywood star and co-owner of Kolkata Knight Riders Shah Rukh Khan was involved in an altercation with security officials and MCA imposed a five-year ban on him for entering the Wankhede stadium. In another controversy, Kochi Tuskers Kerala franchise was terminated by the BCCI for breaching its terms of agreement, in 2011.