The life ban on tainted cricketer S Sreesanth will not be lifted despite him being exonerated of spot-fixing charges by a Delhi court, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) informed the Kerala High Court today.
The BCCI was responding to a petition filed by Sreesanth in the High Court demanding that the ban on him be lifted after a Delhi court dropped the charges against him on July 25, 2015. The former Indian cricketer had sought BCCI's permission to allow him to play for a Scottish club in April.
In his petition to the HC, Sreesanth had contended that even the trial court hearing the match-fixing case has observed in 2015 that "no prima facie case in any offence including Section 3 of MCOCA is made out against the accused persons and they are entitled to be discharged."
In an affidavit filed before the High Court, the BCCI has said, "The decision of the Sessions Court to acquit the petitioner from 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 organized by the BCCI and/or its affiliates.”
“The question before the Sessions Court was whether the petitioner (and other accused) were guilty of penal consequences under relevant criminal statutes. On the other hand, the question before the BCCI DC was whether the petitioner is guilty of match fixing, corruption and gambling and violation of the internal disciplinary rules of the BCCI.”
“The standard of proof required under a penal statute is much higher than the proof required for a disciplinary inquiry. Therefore, on an appreciation of the same evidence, one may not be guilty of criminal consequences but can be found guilty for violating the internal disciplinary rules of an organization," the cricket body said.
"Summarily" rejecting Sreesanth's plea for a review of his life ban, the BCCI said that it will not compromise on its zero tolerance policy towards corruption.
The BCCI has informed Sreesanth of its decision in a letter. The letter was sent by BCCI CEO Rahul Johri after the cricketer wrote to the COA appealing for revocation of his ban in the 2013 spot-fixing scandal.
"The BCCI has informed him that his life ban stays and he won't be allowed to play any form of competitive cricket. He had also appealed in a local court in Kerala and our legal counsel will be replying," a senior BCCI official was quoted as saying by PTI today.
"The BCCI has always maintained zero tolerance towards corrupt practices. No court has exonerated Sreesanth of fixing charges. It was charges of his links with Underworld that were dismissed by the lower court," the source said.
It was made clear that Sreesanth, who intended to play club cricket in UK, won't be allowed and the BCCI has now shut the case.
The lifetime ban on Sreesanth was imposed by the BCCI over spot-fixing charges during the 2013 Indian Premier League (IPL).
All the 36 accused, including Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila, were discharged in the IPL 6 spot-fixing case by Patiala House Court in July 2015.
Exonerated by the trial court, it is only the BCCI life ban that is stopping him from resuming his cricket career.