The Supreme Court on Friday set aside the life ban imposed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on cricketer S Sreesanth over IPL spot fixing charges and asked the board’s disciplinary committee to “revisit the quantum of punishment/sanction” to be imposed on him.
The BCCI had held him guilty under its Anti-Corruption Code and slapped the life ban on September 13, 2013. Sreesanth was accused of spot fixing in the IPL match held in Mohali on May 9, 2013 between Rajasthan Royals against Kings XI Punjab.
What the ruling means for Sreesanth, the cricketer
“There were so many opportunities where I was going to announce my retirement, but thank God I didn’t,” S Sreesanth said after the Supreme Court’s verdict that quashed the life ban imposed by the BCCI for his alleged involvement in the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal. Even as the apex court has asked the BCCI to re-consider the quantum of punishment within three months, speculation has been intense about Sreesanth’s road ahead as a cricketer. The speedster last featured in a competitive first-class fixture six years ago — in February 2013. Sreesanth is 36 but insists that he still has close to four years of cricket left in him. Even if we assume that the BCCI lifts the ban, his best years are well and truly behind him. And Indian cricket, with a surfeit of world-class pacers, has moved on. The door, though, might open for a return to first-class cricket. As it did for Ajay Jadeja before him. Sreesanth can also hope to embark on his impending Scottish sojourn. Two years ago, he had made an attempt to get a No objection certificate (NOC) from the BCCI to let him play for the Glenrothes Cricket Club in Fife — a county in Scotland. However, his plans were scuttled by the board. A rehabilitation to the IPL, however, looks unlikely at the moment, given how image conscious the franchises could be. In the long run, however, he can take up coaching. He has after all mentored many players, especially the fast bowlers, in the Kerala team. “Sreesanth has always been a huge influence on me as a bowler. I have not played under him, but he constantly offers me advice and instills confidence in me. He is someone whom I look upto,” Thampi had said.
The bench of Justice Ashok Bhushan and K M Joseph while setting aside the life ban, however, said “there are no grounds for this Court to take a different view” on the question of the BCCI finding the fast bowler guilty of betting and corruption under its Anti-Corruption Code.
It said “the disciplinary committee order dated 13.09.2013 does not advert to the aggravating and mitigating factors as enumerated in Articles 6.1.1 and 6.1.2 (of the Code)” and added that “without considering the relevant provisions of… Code, the disciplinary committee has imposed a life time ban on the appellant which sanction cannot be held to be in accordance with the…Code itself.”
The bench asked BCCI to take an early decision, “preferably within a period of three months”, and added that Sreesanth may be given an opportunity to present his case on the question of quantum.
The Committee of Administrators is likely to take up the matter soon. “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 was quoted as saying by PTI.
The COA is scheduled to meet on March 18 and the issue of Sreesanth’s ban might come up among the COA on that day.
No impact on criminal appeal
In its ruling, the top court made it clear that the findings under the BCCI code”are entirely different from the offences under which” Sreesanth had been charged before the Sessions Court and that it upholding the former will have no effect on the latter which is now pending before the High Court.
Though a criminal case was registered against him in connection with the match fixing, the trial court had discharged him in July 2015. “We have upheld the decision of disciplinary committee of the BCCI on proof of charges which upholding of the decision of the disciplinary committee shall have no effect in the criminal appeal which is pending against the appellant against the discharge order.”
The conclusions and observations as recorded in the disciplinary proceedings under Anti-Corruption Code are entirely different from proof of criminal charges which are on higher yardstick to prove. It is a well settled principle that criminal charge must be proved beyond reasonable doubt which is not applicable in disciplinary proceedings initiated by the disciplinary committee of the BCCI. We, thus, clarify that any observation in this judgment shall have no effect on the criminal appeal…”, the judgment said.