"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. THEY RELIED ON CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE. The disciplinary committee ought to have been careful in analyzing evidence especially when the deal itself had failed to work," the High Court order stated.
"BCCI’s effort’s to weed out corruption and to uphold the dignity of the game while need to be emphasized but that should not be in a way by over zealously reacting to it. It must be remembered that in every disciplinary action related to a player of national repute, the player suffers his repute and confidence which he built through hard-work. It is the duty of BCCI to safeguard such interest of the player without compromising purity and integrity of the game," it added.
Speaking exclusively to CNN-News18 after the developments Sreesanth said that he is very happy and proud at the verdict.
"I had a lot of support from people, I want to thank all of them. I am very happy and proud that the ban has been lifted by the court. I am only 34, so hope can play for at least 6 years. I hope to be back soon. The next step is to play for the Kerala Ranji team at the earliest. I will have to start from the scratch. thanks to all those who prayed for me," an elated Sreesanth said after the HC's verdict.
Sreesanth was cleared of criminal charges by a sessions court but continued to face sanctions issued on him by the governing body, based on an internal disciplinary committee report.
Speaking exclusively to Cricketnext, BCCI President CK Khanna said that the board's legal team is looking into the matter currently and any action on the judgement will be taken after hearing the legal team's opinion.
"We have asked our legal team to look into the order and give us their opinion and after that we will place it in front of the appropriate panel," Khanna said.
The Kerala Cricket Association said it's happy with the development.
"We were right behind Sreesanth from day one. We were in Delhi during those days (arrest and subsequent court hearings) when he endured a lot. Now that High Court has given a verdict, hopefully, normalcy will return in his life. We would love to see him back in Kerala shirt," KCA secretary Jayesh George said.
The KCA, though, remained apprehensive about the BCCI's stand.
"Look, two years back, we had appealed to the BCCI requesting to lift Sreesanth's ban after lower court in Delhi exonerated him of all spot-fixing charges. The BCCI then decided to stick to life ban. Now that Kerala High Court has given the verdict, the BCCI may think of appealing to Supreme Court. We don't know what will be their stand," George said.
When asked whether Sreesanth would be considered for Ranji Trophy selection this season if all goes well, George said: "That I can't tell you right now as it will be a collective decision by the association. Also we have our selectors who needs to take a call on his fitness.
"He is 34 years and has not played for last four years. Obviously, with his talent and experience, he is an asset for Kerala Ranji team.
"We now have pacers like Basil Thampi (current India A player), Sandip Warrier. If Sree is around, obviously they can gain from his experience."
In his order, Justice A Muhamed Mustaque also set aside all proceedings against Sreesanth initiated by the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
The court had earlier sought the BCCI's stand on the plea by the cricketer, challenging the life ban imposed on him by the game's governing body following the 2013 Indian Premier League-6 spot-fixing scandal.
The BCCI had filed a counter-affidavit in the court in response to the plea by Sreesanth, who had challenged the life ban despite a court dropping all charges against the 34-year- old pacer.
The cricket board had said, "The decision of the sessions court to acquit the petitioner from the criminal charges has no impact whatsoever on the decision of the internal disciplinary committee of the BCCI to ban the petitioner from playing cricket tournaments organised by the BCCI and/or its affiliates."
It had said the question before the court was whether the petitioner (and other accused) was liable to incur penal consequences under relevant criminal statutes.
On the other hand, the question before the BCCI Disciplinary Committee was whether the petitioner was guilty of match fixing, corruption and gambling and violation of the internal disciplinary rules of the BCCI, the board had said.
The standard of proof required under a penal statute was much higher than the proof required for a disciplinary inquiry, it had said.
The Kerala High Court had in May sought the BCCI's stand on a plea by Sreesanth challenging the life ban imposed upon him by the game's governing body after detection of the 2013 IPL-6 spot-fixing scandal.
A bench of Justice P B Suresh Kumar sought the BCCI's stand, issuing notice to its panel of administrators headed by Vinod Rai. The BCCI had earlier filed a counter-affidavit on the issue before the court in response to the plea by Sreesanth, who had challenged the continued life ban on him from the games despite his acquittal of the match-fixing charges.
In its affidavit, the BCCI had said "the decision of the sessions court to acquit the petitioner from the criminal charges has no impact whatsoever on the decision of the internal disciplinary committee of the BCCI to ban the petitioner from playing cricket tournaments organised by the BCCI and/or its affiliates."
The Board had said the question before the sessions court was whether the petitioner (and other accused) was liable to incur penal consequences under relevant criminal statutes.
On the other hand, the question before the BCCI Disciplinary Committee was whether the petitioner was guilty of match fixing, corruption and gambling and violation of the internal disciplinary rules of the BCCI, the Board had said.
The standard of proof required under a penal statute is much higher than the proof required for a disciplinary inquiry, it had said.
All the 36 accused, including Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila were discharged in the spot-fixing case by Patiala House Court in July 2015.
The BCCI, however, refused to alter its disciplinary decision, even after the verdict.
(With PTI inputs)
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First Published: August 7, 2017, 2:54 PM IST