With betting in the Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament estimated to be around a Rs. 66,000 crore business, CBI Director Ranjit Sinha on Tuesday said there was no harm in legalising betting as there was no point in a ban which could not be enforced.
When asked by senior editor Shekhar Gupta on his views about legalising betting, Mr Sinha, who was on the panel of a session, "Ethics and integrity in sports - need for a law and role of CBI", said there was no harm in legalising betting in the country.
"If you cannot enforce the ban on betting, it is like saying 'if you can't prevent rape, you enjoy it'", Mr Sinha said.
"If we can have lottery in states, if we can have casinos at holiday resorts, if the government can declare schemes of voluntary disclosure for black money, so what's the harm in legalising betting? Besides you'll have enforcement agencies to look into it," he said, adding that it is easy to call for a ban than to enforce it.
(Later, a spokesperson of the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI clarified that the context in which the Mr Sinha made the statement was only an opinion on legalising betting.
"A voice vote was taken from RM Sawani and cricketer Rahul Dravid and the Director, CBI, made a point if a law cannot be enforced, that does not mean that law should not be there").
When informed by a delegate during the session that officials of cricket bodies had been termed as public servants by the Supreme Court and could now be probed by the CBI and the states' anti-corruption agencies, Mr Sinha said it was a revelation and he would not hesitate to probe cases of corruption if the need arises.
Earlier, speaking on the occasion, ace cricketer Rahul Dravid, who was a special guest at the panel, said legalising betting was a subject on which a call had to be taken by the law enforcement agencies.
"I think if the law enforcement authorities actually do feel that legalising betting will lead to better governance and reduce corruption, then I am all for it," he said.
When the question was posed to Ravi Sawani, chief of the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit of the Board of Control for Cricket in India or BCCI, he said legalising betting would, in no way, help reduce corruption in the game.