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Posted at: Mar 15, 2019, 11:26 AM; last updated: Mar 15, 2019, 4:12 PM (IST)

Supreme Court revokes life ban on cricketer Sreesanth

Supreme Court revokes life ban on cricketer Sreesanth
He was accused of spot-fixing in the match played between Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab in Mohali in May 2013. File photo

New Delhi, March 15
 
The Supreme Court on Friday 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 K M 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.
 
CoA meeting
 
Committee of Administrators  head Vinod Rai said that ciurt’s verdict will be discussed at the next meeting. 
 
"Yes, I have heard about the Supreme Court order. We will need to get the copy of the order. We will definitely take up
the issue at the COA meeting," COA chief Vinod Rai told PTI.
 
The COA is scheduled to meet on March 18 to discuss the anti-doping policy of the Board with the International Cricket Council officials. The issue of Sreesanth's ban might come up among the COA on that day.
 
Now that BCCI has a new ombudsman in Justice (Retd ) DK Jain and amicus curiae PS Narsimha,  it is expected that the decision will be fast-tracked.
 
BCCI acting president CK Khanna made it clear that it will be completely COA's call as the onus is on it to implement the apex court's 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 CA 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. 
 
Happy family
 
Sreesanth’s family was happy with the verdict. 
 
"Finally he has got justice, we wish the BCCI also will allow him to play. We are really thankful to all who have been supporting us. He has been also very keen to return to play and has been keeping fit. Just the other day while engaged in practice, he suffered an injury on his forehead," a happy Bhuvaneswari told the media present at the family home here.
 
Sreesanth, who is currently in Delhi, returns home on Friday evening, she added. 
 
His mother Savithiri Devi said that she has been seeing her son suffering ever since the case began.
 
"We are really thankful to God , who has given him relief. I have seen his suffering for more than five years now," she said. Agencies 
 

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