Apex court quashes Sreesanth life ban

The Supreme Court delivered its verdict 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. PTI

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.

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.

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