Supreme Court: In a huge relief to cricketer S. Sreesanth, the bench of Ashok Bhushan and KM Joseph, JJ has set aside the life ban imposed upon him by the BCCI for his involvement in the 2013 IPL spot-fixing and betting case.
Senior Advocate Salman Khurshid, representing Sreesanth, argued before the Court that Sreesath never agreed and was not part of spot fixing nor ever received amount of Rs.10 lakh as alleged. He also said that BCCI wasn’t able to prove that he bowled loose balls in the match in question.
When Parag P. Tiwari, appearing for BCCI, said that opportunity was given to Sreesanth but he wasn’t able to given any satisfactory explanation, Salman Khurshid, responded by saying that the burden to prove the allegation was on BCCI. He further said:
“In any view of the matter, at best, the appellant could have been charged with not disclosing to the BCCI of any information. … punishment of life ban was excessive and maximum, the punishment which could have been imposed on the appellant was upto five years.”
The Court, hence, reached the following conclusion:
“In cases where offences under Article 2.1.1, 2.1.2, 2.1.3 and 2.1.4 (of the Anti-Corruption Code) are proved, the disciplinary committee is not obliged to award a life time ban in all cases where such offences are proved. When range of ineligibility which is minimum five years, maximum life time ban is provided for, the discretion to which, either minimum or maximum or in between has to be exercised on relevant facts and circumstances.”
The Court also held that the disciplinary committee order dated 13.09.2013 did not advert to the aggravating and mitigating factors as enumerated in Articles 6.1.1 and 6.1.2 of the Code., the disciplinary committee has imposed a life time ban on the Sreesanth without considering the relevant provisions of Anti-Corruption Code.
The Court, hence, directed:
- The order dated 13.09.2013 of the disciplinary committee only to the extent of imposing sanction of life time ban is set aside.
- The disciplinary committee of the BCCI may reconsider the quantum of punishment/sanction which may be imposed on the appellant as per Article 6 of the Anti- Corruption Code. Sreesanth may be given one opportunity to have his say on the question of quantum of punishment/sanction.
- The disciplinary committee may take decision as indicated above on the quantum of punishment/sanction at an early date preferably within a period of three months.
- Sreesanth shall await the decision of the disciplinary committee and future course of action shall be in accordance with the decision of the disciplinary committee so taken. Parties shall bear their own costs.
[S. Sreesanth v. Board of Control for Cricket in India, CIVIL APPEAL NO.2424 OF 2019, decided on 15.03.2019]