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May 10, 2001

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CBI itching to take on Jadeja

Onkar Singh in New Delhi

When the Central Bureau of Investigations moved an application before Justice Vijendra Jain of the Delhi high court, requesting that it be made a party to the case filed by former India star Ajay Jadeja, everyone present in court at the time was taken aback.

"Yes, we moved that application voluntarily," explains CBI joint director R N Savani.

Savani, who headed the probe into match-fixing and authored the report that was submitted to then Sports Minnister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, said, "Jadeja in his petition has raised all kinds of questions about how the cricketers were judged. But he did not make us a party to his case, his questions are addressed to the sports ministry and the BCCI. We felt that the CBI was the best placed to answer him, so we asked to be made a party to the case.

CBI officials indicate that they are ready, even anxious, to have their say in court. Earlier, when the agency submitted a report to the government, the latter had decided even while accepting the report, that there was no provision in law to prosecute the cricketers named by the agency.

"Jadeja has said many things in his petition. He has even produced a copy of his mobile bill -- but we are sure what he produced is only a portion of the bill. We have the entire records, and we will be making it available to the court," a senior CBI official said.

Jadeja, who was banned for five years by the BCCI on the basis of the CBI report, has gone to court challenging that ban. He has not, however, challenged the findings of the CBI.

The same is the case with former skipper Mohammad Azharuddin, who is fighting a similar case in the Hyderabad courts. CBI sources indicate that soon, the agency could petition to be made a party to Azhar's case as well, on the same grounds.