Life ban too harsh: Sreesanth tells Supreme Court

Sreesanth was proved innocent when the trial court had discharged him for lack of evidence.

BCCI will begin its response in the case on February 28.   -  H. Vibhu

Former Indian cricketer S. Sreesanth on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that a life ban from the game is too harsh a punishment

"Life ban given to Mohd Azharuddin (former India captain) was overturned. Pakistan’s Salim Malik got a life ban but it was overturned. Hansie Cronje was given life ban but he died in a plane crash when proceedings were not closed," senior advocate Salman Khurshid, for Sreesanth, told a Bench of Justices Ashoka Bhushan and K.M. Joseph.

Mr. Khurshid argued that despite the ban and losing the best part of his career, Sreesanth has remained loyal to the BCCI and wants to "reconnect" with the Board.

"What about effort to fix?” Justice Bhushan asked.

"If at all he is guilty of anything, it is for failure to disclose about fixing, etc, despite having knowledge. That will make him guilty only of the least punishable offence. There is nothing on record to warrant a lifetime ban”, Mr. Khurshid replied.

The senior lawyer said the charge of fixing should be backed with evidence to prove that Sreesanth was involved in spot-fixing while playing for Rajasthan Royals during the IPL in 2013.

Mr. Khurshid submitted that his client had suffered "continuous torture" in the hands of the Delhi Police. He was at one time forced to confess to something he did not do after being threatened that his family would also be arrested.

His innocence was ultimately proved when the trial court discharged him for lack of evidence.

"It is a fact that he used a towel. Many players do. There was no criminal intent or foul play. Too much is being read into it. The court had discharged him finally," Mr. Khurshid had argued.

BCCI would begin its response in the case on February 28.