In a relief to fast bowler Sreesanth, the Kerala High Court has ordered the BCCI to lift the life ban on him for his alleged involvement in the IPL spot-fixing scandal of 2013. The order was issued after he had moved the court challenging the BCCI’s decision to not lift the ban despite his being cleared by a Delhi trial court in 2015.
“Many people supported me [through] thick and thin,” the Hindustan Times quoted Sreesanth as saying. “They stood with me. I am really indebted to them and I will not let them down.”
According to media reports, the Kerala High Court observed that the BCCI’s refusal to lift the ban was a violation of natural justice. After Sreesanth and two other Rajasthan Royals bowlers – Ankit Chavan and Ajit Chandila – were arrested for alleged fulfilling promises made to bookmakers in May 2013, they were banned for life by the BCCI.
The court’s observations took into account that in 2015 Sreesanth was exonerated of spot-fixing charges by a Delhi trial court due to insufficient evidence under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), a special law passed by the Maharashtra state government to tackle organised crime syndicates and terrorism.
The BCCI, though, is yet to make a decision on allowing his return to cricket. The BCCI’s acting president CK Khanna said the board’s legal team would study the order and furnish a report on the matter. “Once we get their opinion, we will take it up in the appropriate forum,” Khanna told ESPNcricinfo. “There is no time frame as such but we will do it at the earliest.”
Another BCCI official said the option of an appeal to the Supreme Court couldn’t be ruled out. “One has to see the order first. Before that, anything is a matter of conjecture.”
The BCCI’s position in the past has been to delink its decisions from any legal proceedings. In 2013, the board’s investigation, conducted by the BCCI’s then anti-corruption unit chief Ravi Sawani, only needed to focus on the conduct of the players and not their alleged connections to organised crime syndicates. The BCCI’s decisions were therefore “independent to any criminal proceeding” and “based on its independent disciplinary action, shall remain unaltered.”
As a result, Sreesanth’s request for a no-objection certificate to play league cricket for Glenrothes CC in Scotland was shot down in January. With a similar request having been denied the year before as well, Sreesanth told ESPNcricinfo that he had not received any formal communication from the BCCI. He last played official cricket during the 2013 IPL.
Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. @scarletrun
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