The Supreme Court on March 15 set aside the BCCI disciplinary committee’s order imposing a life ban on former Indian cricketer S Sreesanth for his alleged involvement in the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal.
A bench comprising justices Ashok Bhushan and KM Joseph said the disciplinary committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) may reconsider within three months the quantum of punishment to be given to Sreesanth. The bench made it clear that the former cricketer will get the opportunity of being heard by the committee on the quantum of the punishment.
The apex court also said that its verdict shall have no effect on the criminal proceedings pending against the former cricketer in the Delhi High Court, where the Delhi Police has challenged a trial court’s order discharging all accused, including Sreesanth, in the IPL spot-fixing case. The bench passed this order 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 single-judge bench of the Kerala High Court had lifted the life ban imposed on the 35-year-old cricketer by the BCCI and had set aside all proceedings against him initiated by the board. Later, the division bench of the high court had restored the ban on a petition filed by the BCCI against the single-judge bench’s order.
The BCCI had on February 28 told the apex court that the life ban imposed on Sreesanth was “fully sustainable in law” as he had “tried to influence” a match. Sreesanth’s lawyer had countered the arguments and had told the court that no spot-fixing took place during the IPL match and allegations levelled against the cricketer were not substantiated by evidence.
Senior advocate Parag Tripathi, appearing for the BCCI, had referred to the recorded telephonic conversations in the matter and told the court it was clear that money was demanded and was “probably received” also. He said there were allegations that Rs 10 lakh was paid to Sreesanth for conceding 14 runs in his second over in an Indian Premier League (IPL) match between the Rajasthan Royals and the Kings XI Punjab at Mohali in May 2013.
Sreesanth had earlier claimed in the top court that the life ban was “completely unfair” and the Delhi Police had “continuously tortured” him in custody to extract confession of his involvement in the case.
The former cricketer, who was arrested and later discharged by a trial court here in July 2015 in a criminal case related to the alleged spot-fixing, had claimed he had to confess his involvement in the alleged crime as police tortured him in custody and threatened to implicate his family in the case. His counsel had argued that as per allegations, Sreesanth was supposed to concede 14 runs in an over but he gave away 13 runs and the commentary during the match reflected he had not bowled loose deliveries in that over.
The apex court last year asked the Delhi High Court to decide expeditiously the appeal filed by the Delhi Police challenging a trial court order discharging several accused, including Sreesanth. The Delhi Police had arrested Sreesanth, along with cricketers Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan, and others on charges of spot-fixing.
As many as 36 accused in the spot-fixing case, including Sreesanth, Chavan and Chandila, were discharged by the trial court here in July 2015. The BCCI, however, had refused to alter its disciplinary decision of life ban on Sreesanth even after the trial court’s verdict.