KOCHI: Decks have been cleared for cricketer Sreesanth to continue his career in cricket as the Kerala High Court on Monday quashed the life ban imposed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on him in the wake of the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal.
The court held there were no materials or evidence before the disciplinary committee to conclude Sreesanth was guilty of violation of the anti-corruption code formulated by the BCCI. The committee relied on circumstantial evidence and it ought to have been careful in analysing evidence, especially when the deal itself failed to work out. The BCCI ought to have found there was no circumstantial evidence to indicate Sreesanth had agreed for spot-fixing, the court held.
The court issued the order while allowing the petition filed by Sreesanth through his counsel Sivan Madathil, seeking to quash the decision of the BCCI. The allegation against Sreesanth relates to a match played on May 9, 2013, between Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab at Mohali.
It was alleged Sreesanth had agreed to concede 14 or more runs in the second over of his bowling spell and the bookies offered him Rs 10 lakh. As per the plan, Sreesanth was to give a signal by tucking his handtowel in his trouser and by doing some stretching exercise which would act as a signal before the fixed over. In support of the allegations, audiotapes of telephonic conversations between Jiju Janardhanan and bookie Chandresh Chandubhai Patel were said to be in possession of the police.
The BCCI initiated action against Sreesanth for violating the anti-corruption code. The court said there was no incriminating evidence to pinpoint Sreesanth’s involvement. Having considered the nature of the deal made between Jiju and Patel, money could not have been retained with Jiju.
As the spot-fixing did not materialise, it was unbelievable the bookie did not demand the return of the amount after the match. The conversation between Jiju and Patel clearly indicated Sreesanth was not willing for spot-fixing.
“If the evidence as a whole is appreciated, it can easily be concluded Sreesanth had no direct link in spot-fixing or betting,” the court said.The court also noted, under the BCCI anti-corruption code, if the player has the knowledge of the subject of the bet, he is bound to report to the authority. Assuming Sreesanth had knowledge of such betting, the court was of the view the punishment already suffered by him by way of four years of ban from all format of cricket, was sufficient to meet ends of justice. “It is equally important Sreesanth never attempted to dissociate himself with Jiju after the spot-fixing scandal broke out.”
“Jiju had an active role in the spot-fixing and betting, but Sreesanth’s role is ruled out because there is nothing to connect him. However, Sreesanth, having come to know his close friend dragged his name into the betting scandal, he should have publicly taken exception to the conduct of Jiju. In fact, the impassive conduct of Sreesanth raised suspicions about his role. Complacency in the matter on the part of Sreesanth is really condemnable,” the court said.To uphold the dignity of the game, Sreesanth should have publicly disapproved of the conduct of Jiju, especially when his name was dragged into the controversy. “Anyhow, having suffered a ban now for four years, nothing further is required in the matter,” the court said.