Kerala HC lifts life ban on Sreesanth

In his order, Justice A. Muhamed Mustaque also set aside all proceedings against Sreesanth initiated by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

The Kerala HC has quashed the life-ban imposed on Sreesanth, thereby letting him off the 2013 IPL spot-fixing case.   -  Getty

The Kerala High Court on Monday quashed the decision of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to impose a life ban on cricketer S. Sreesanth in the wake of the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal.

The court passed the verdict while allowing a writ filed by the fast bowler challenging the decision of the BCCI disciplinary committee. He pointed out that despite a Delhi Sessions court verdict discharging him from a crime registered in connection with the spot-fixing in 2015 under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), the BCCI refused to lift the ban.

Allowing the petition, the court observed that there was “no material or evidence before the disciplinary committee to conclude that Sreesanth was guilty of violation of the anti-corruption code formulated by the BCCI”. The court pointed out that the disciplinary committee came to the conclusion based on circumstantial evidence.

The disciplinary committee should have found that there was no circumstantial evidence to indicate that the cricketer had agreed to spot fixing. The only probability in such circumstances that could be pointed out against the cricketer was his knowledge on the subject of the betting.

The entire evidence clearly pointed out that the betting syndicate and other mafia had encircled the gentleman's game.

The BCCI's effort to weed out corruption and uphold the dignity of the game need to be emphasied. But that should not be by “overzealous” actions. The court slammed the BCCI for placing reliance on the confession made by the cricketer before the police. The court said that no reliance could be placed on the confession statement in a disciplinary proceeding without any evidence to prove that the confession was voluntary.

Dissecting evidence in a manner suited to the disciplinary committee resulted in “loosing its dimension to find out the truth”. If the evidence as a whole was appreciated, it could easily be concluded that Sreesanth had no direct link in the spot fixing or betting scam.

The court also also condemned Sreesanth for not publicly disapproving the conduct of Jiji Janardhanan, cricketer and his close friend in dragging his name into the betting and spot fixing scandal.

Sreesanth's conduct had made his role suspicious and led the disciplinary committee to conclude that the circumstantial evidence pointed fingers at him. The court said that there was nothing to connect him with Jiji Janardhanan.

The court pointed out that as per the BCCI anti-corruption code, if the player had the knowledge of the subject of betting, he was bound to report to the authority. Assuming that Sreesanth had knowledge of such betting, the court was of the view that the punishment of four years of ban from all form of crickets already suffered by him was sufficient to meet the end of justice.