"Anyhow, having suffered ban now almost for four years, nothing further is required in this matter," the court said.

Kerala HC says no direct link to implicate Sreesanth in spot-fixing condemns his approach
news Cricket Monday, August 07, 2017 - 20:31

Nearly four years after the BCCI imposed a lifetime ban on Sreesanth, the cricketer finally got relief as the Kerala High Court overturned it on Monday.

It was in September 2013 that the BCCI had given him a lifetime ban for bringing the game into disrepute and it refused to lift the ban, even after a Delhi court acquitted him in the case in 2015.

The case relates to the match played on May 9, 2013 between Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab at Mohali, where it is alleged that in exchange for a sum of Rs, 10,00,000/-, Sreesanth had agreed to concede 14 or more runs in the second over of his bowling spell.  

To confirm this, Sreesanth was required to place a small hand towel in his visible pocket while bowling the second over and ensuring that no such towel was placed when bowling the first over.

The court adds that it is corroborated by the fact that Sreesanth conceded 13 runs in the second over of his spell.

The court says that the BCCI relied on two sets of evidence collected by the police during the course of investigation against Sreesanth.

It says in the statement, 

“This evidence comprises of an audio recording a conversation between a close friend of Sreesanth, Jiju Janardhanan and a bookie called Chandresh Chandubhai Patel. It appears that the police had recorded the conversation between the duo by taping phone calls. The second set of evidence is the confession of Sreesanth before the police.”

“It is to be noted that there are no incriminating evidence to pinpoint Sreesanth’s involvement in sport fixing deal. Having considered the nature of the deal made between Jiju Janardhanan and Chandresh Patel, money could not have been retained with Jiju Janardhanan. Therefore, it is clear that something would have been transpired between Chandresh Patel and Jiju Janardhanan after the match. It is impossible in such circumstances for Sreesanth and Jiju Janardhanan to retain Rs 5.5 lakhs. The BCCI referred to the conversation, selectively, as against Sreesanth. When evidence is in the nature of circumstantial evidence, that evidence ought to have been appreciated as a whole. If the evidence as a whole is appreciated, it can easily be concluded that Sreesanth had no direct link in sport fixing or betting.”

“The question in such circumstances is whether Sreesanth had any knowledge of occurrence of the subject of the betting? The evidence as such clearly does not indicate whether Jiju Janardhanan had approached Sreesanth or not. It is to be noted that another BCCI anti-corruption court if the player has the knowledge of the subject of the bet, he is bound to report to the authorities (article 2.2.3). Assuming that Sreesanth had knowledge of such betting, the court is of the view that the punishment already suffered by him of four years of the ban from all format of the cricket, nationally and internationally, is sufficient to meet ends of justice. It is equally important to note that Sreesanth never attempted to dissociate himself with Jiju Janardhanan after the sport fixing scandal broke out in the news.”

It says that Jiju Janardhanan had an active role in the spot fixing and betting but Sreesanth's role is ruled out because there is nothing to connect him. The court adds,

"However, Sreeesanth having come to know that his own close friend dragged his name into betting scandal and sport fixing, he should have publicly taken exception to the conduct of Jiju Janardhanan. Complacency in the matter on the part of Sreesanth is really condemnable. To uphold the dignity of the game, he should have publicly disapproved the conduct of Jiju Janardhanan, especially when his name was dragged into controversy. Anyhow, having suffered ban now almost for four years, nothing further is required in this matter.”

"As adverted above, there was no materials or evidence before the disciplinary committee to conclude that Sreesanth was guilty of the violation of the anti-corruption code formulated by the BCCI. The disciplinary committee relied on circumstantial evidence. The BCCI ought to have found that there was no circumstantial evidence to indicate that Sreesanth had agreed to sport fixing. The only probability in such circumstances that can be pinpointed against Sreesanth is based on his knowledge on the subject of the bet. The BCCI in its earnest efforts to extinguish such bad elements should have separated the wheat from the chaff. It must be remembered in every disciplinary action related to a player of national repute, the player suffers his repute and confidence which he built through hardwork. It is the duty of the BCCI to safeguard such interest of the player without compromising purity and integrity of the game.”

The court statement concludes by saying that the writ petition is allowed and that the life ban and other punishment imposed on Sreesanth pursuant to the disciplinary proceedings against Sreesanth stand quashed and set aside.