THE Supreme Court on Friday quashed the life ban imposed by the BCCI on cricketer S Sreesanth for his alleged involvement in the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal and asked the apex cricket body to re-consider within three months the quantum of punishment.
However, the top court upheld the decision of the BCCI’s disciplinary committee which said that charges of betting and corruption under the anti-corruption code of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) were proved against the 36-year-old cricketer.
Delivering its 74-page verdict, a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and KM Joseph said the committee may re-consider within three months the quantum of punishment or sanction which may be imposed on Sreesanth as per relevant article of the anti-corruption code. It said Sreesanth may be given one opportunity to have his say on the question of quantum of punishment.
While giving some relief to the cricketer, the bench made it clear that its judgement shall have no effect on the criminal appeal pending against him in the Delhi High Court, where the Delhi Police has challenged a trial court’s order discharging all the accused, including Sreesanth, in the IPL spot-fixing case.
The apex court delivered its verdict on Sreesanth’s plea challenging the decision of a division bench of the Kerala High Court which had restored the life ban imposed on him by the BCCI. A relieved Sreesanth hoped he will be allowed by the BCCI to get back to the cricket field.
“I hope the BCCI respects the verdict of the country’s highest court and allows me to at least get back to the cricket field,” he told PTI.
BCCI acting president CK Khanna said the Vinod Rai-headed Committee of Administrators(COA) running Indian cricket will take a call on the court order.
“This is a Supreme Court order and obviously a call needs to be taken. I am confident that the issue will come up for serious deliberation at the next COA meeting. As far as Sreesanth being brought back to mainstream cricket, I have no comment to make,” Khanna said.
Former BCCI vice-president and Kerala Cricket Association senior official TC Matthew, someone who has seen Sreesanth as a youngster, “welcomed the verdict”.
“I am very happy for Sreesanth. He has lost six most precious years of his life. I don’t think even if the ban is lifted he can play first-class cricket.
“But obviously if the BCCI lifts his ban after the SC verdict, he can have an alternate career in cricket, whatever that is. He can be a coach, mentor, may be take up professional umpiring, play club cricket in England,” Matthew said. Partly allowing Sreesanth’s appeal, the apex court said, “the order dated September 13, 2013 of the disciplinary committee only to the extent of imposing sanction of life time ban is set aside.”
“Appellant (Sreesanth) shall await the decision of the disciplinary committee and future course of action shall be in accordance with the decision of the disciplinary committee so taken,” it added. While setting aside the life ban, the top court said that disciplinary committee’s order does not advert to aggravating and mitigating factors as enumerated in anti-corruption code.