Delhi Police today invoked the stringent MCOCA against suspended cricketer S Sreesanth and 22 others in the IPL spot-fixing scandal for which the "command" originated from underworld don Dawood Ibrahim's outfit.
Following this, a Delhi court remanded Sreesanth, another player Ajit Chandila and the others to further judicial custody till June 18.
"Since the accused persons were acting on command of people based abroad like Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar and Chota Shakeel who have a continuous past record of organised crimes, provisions of Maharasthra Control of Organised Crime Act have been invoked against the accused," police told Additional Sessions Judge Sanjiv Jain.
The court, in its order, referred to the approval granted by Joint Commissioner of Police Special Cell for invoking section 3 and 4 of MCOCA and also a report citing reasons for the same.
"It has been stated that the approval for invoking MCOCA has been accorded by Jt CP special cell on the premise that the arrested persons/ accused through extensive use of electronic and via media were in communication with each other and with their other associates, who are still absconding, including those associates who are based abroad.
"The illegal organised betting syndicate in India is being controlled by persons based abroad.
"The arrested accused persons have been found playing role of conspirators while others have been found acting as facilitators," the court quoted from the report.
"This organised crime syndicate besides controlling illegal betting was indulging in fixing performance of players and also the rates of betting," police told the court.
Under the MCOCA, charge sheet can be filed within a maximum period of 180 days as against 60-90 days under provisions of IPC.
The police custody can be extended till 30 days under MCOCA whereas under IPC, it can only be extended for 15 days.
Under section 3 of MCOCA, the accused face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment along with fine of Rs 5 lakh while under section 4, the jail term can go upto ten years along with fine of Rs 1 lakh and properties of the accused can also be attached.
In its report, police said that the syndicate of Dawood Ibrahim was also using musclemen and henchmen like Sheikh Shakeel to threaten people to fall in line with their directives.
It is stated that Chota Shakeel has a past of continuing unlawful activities in an organised manner as defined under MCOCA.
"Keeping in view these facts and the investigation is in progress, all accused persons are remanded to judicial custody till June 18," the court said.
The accused were earlier booked for cheating, criminal breach of trust and criminal conspiracy.
The court also directed issuance of production warrant for June 10 for Ramesh Vyas, who was arrested in Mumbai, after police said he was in direct contact with Dawood Ibrahim and was handling the betting syndicate in south India.
It also asked Mumbai police to send back accused Ashwani Aggarwal alias Tinku Mandi, who was handed over to it for interrogation as prosecution said he was controlling the betting in north India and was in touch with Vyas and Dawood.
Earlier, during the arguments, Additional Public Prosecutor Rajiv Mohan said, "The order of the officer of the rank of Jt CP to invoke MCOCA against accused was passed yesterday and a detailed order with reasons has been placed before the court."
He said "the command in this case for betting was coming from abroad from people with record of organised crime.
The accused were involved with them and were indulging in betting in connivance with them. The money was being generated in India from abroad."
Prosecution also told the court that they have "concrete" evidence
like intercepted telephonic conversations to link Sreesanth and some others with D-company.
The defence counsel vehemently opposed invocation of MCOCA saying the police has to show that the accused were involved in continuing unlawful activity and claimed that not everything can be connected to D-company and brought under MCOCA.
Sreesanth's counsel Vishal Gosain and the cricketer's friend and alleged bookie Jiju Janardhan's counsel Pawan Narang said MCOCCA is totally unjustified and has been slapped only to stop their clients from getting bail as some other accused -- Vindoo Dara Singh and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) principal Gurunath Meiyappan, were given bail by a Mumbai court.
Advocate D P Singh, appearing for bookie Chandresh Patel, said, "The players cannot be said to be running organised crime syndicate."
There are total 26 accused arrested by the Delhi Police in the case, out of which Rajasthan Royals' Ankeet Chavan is on interim bail till June 6 while Sreesanth's friend Abhishek Shukla is on regular bail.