The Supreme Court on Friday asked the BCCI to reconsider the life ban imposed on S Sreesanth for his role in the 2013 Indian Premier League (IPL) spot-fixing scandal. The court, in its ruling, also added that the 36-year-old be given an opportunity to be heard by the BCCI’s disciplinary panel on the quantum of punishment. Here’s the timeline of the saga:
May 2013-September 2013:
Neck deep in trouble
Booked under MCOCA
* Delhi Police arrests Rajasthan Royals’ trio Sreesanth, Ankit Chavan, and Ajit Chandila, including Jiju Janardhan — an alleged bookie and a close aide of Sreesanth and gets booked under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA). Consequently, a charge-sheet is also filed by the CBI.
BCCI slaps life bans
* Sreesanth, Chavan and Chandila handed life bans by the BCCI.
Escaping MCOCA sanctions
* Sreesanth is alleged to have received Rs 10 lakh from a bookie Chandresh Chandubhai Patel, who was introduced to him by a close aide Jiju Janardhan to bowl a certain number of runs in a particular over during the 2013 edition of IPL. The Delhi trial court discharged the pacer from the case because the charges under MCOCA that Sreesanth was linked to organized crime could not be corroborated, given the facts of case, even as the CBI was also not able to establish a prima facie link. More importantly, India, unlike in some of the other countries like Australia and the United Kingdom, does not have any law that penalises fixing in cricket matches. Despite escaping sanctions under MCOCA, the BCCI went ahead and slapped a life ban on Sreesanth anyway because he had violated the cricket board’s anti-corruption code.
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.
October 2013-July 2015:
* Supreme Court quashes BCCI’s move to set up a special panel to probe the spot-fixing scandal. Instead, they
propose a three-member panel headed by former Punjab and Haryana Chief Justice, Mukul Mudgal, to look into this case. The case sparked a domino effect and after a widespread manhunt, after actor Vindoo Dara Singh was arrested in connection with illegal betting. It was Singh’s arrest that led to the arrest of Gurunath Meiyappan, part of the top brass of the Chennai Super Kings. Even Rajasthan Royals co-owner Raj Kundra was another name that featured prominently. Following this IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla resigned and the then BCCI chief N. Srinivasan also temporarily gave up his duties. In the same year, Sreesanth, Chandila, Meiyappan and Vindoo managed to secure bail.
* BCCI urges the International Cricket Council (ICC) to erase Sreesanth’s records from international and domestic cricket. They even wanted his medals — which the the pacer had won for his performances in the 2007 World T20 and the subsequent 2011 World Cup — to be returned.
A botched-up probe
* The CBI probe was riddled with serious errors, as they did not present all the evidence in court. Secondly, the Delhi High Court had based their ruling based on a a conjecture — that it would be impossible for Sreesanth to have retained the money despite failing to fulfill part of the fix.
* A Delhi trial court dropped the charges against Sreesanth, Chandila and Chavan in the spot-fixing case.
August 2017-March 2019:
Road to relief
The Kerala HC ruling
* Kerala HC quashes BCCI’s decision to impose a life ban on Sreesanth. It passed the verdict while allowing a writ filed by Sreesanth challenging the BCCI disciplinary panel’s decision. In its judgment, the court points out that the BCCI has refused to lift the ban despite a Delhi sessions court verdict discharging him from a crime registered in connection with the spot-fixing case in 2015.
* The HC restores life ban on Sreesanth in response to an appeal filed by the BCCI CEO Rahul Johri against the single-
judge verdict which had revoked the ban earlier. In its judgment, a Division Bench of Chief Justice Navniti Prasad Singh notes that the court could not hold the judicial view of the life ban imposed by the cricketing body.
Knocking SC’s door
* Sreesanth, before the SC bench, said the life ban sentence by the BCCI is “too harsh” and added the life ban on cricketer-turned-politician Mohammad Azharuddin — who was accused of being involved in a match-fixing scandal in 2000 — was revised and that the BCCI should do the same in his case. The bench of Justices Bhushan and K M Joseph reserves its judgment on Sreesanth’s plea.
* Supreme Court asks the BCCI to review the quantum of Sreesanth’s punishment in three months, however, it upheld his indictment with regard to the IPL spot-fixing scandal.