The Kerala High Court lifted the lifetime ban on S Sreenath imposed by the BCCI today, in a scathing judgement that criticised the disciplinary committee for being too eager to crush the pacer’s career. The Kerala bowler had been banned by the BCCI based on spot-fixing allegations during the IPL 2013, and failed to reinstate the ban even though the Delhi HC had exonerated Sreesanth in July 2015. The Kerala HC set aside the lifetime ban and other punishments imposed on Sreesanth, saying that the circumstantial evidence that was used to implicate Sreesanth had not been considered in the whole and that would have revealed that the bowler had no direct link to bookies.
The disciplinary committee had relied on two bits of evidence for its decision – the recorded conversation between Sreesanth and a close friend(who also happened to be a bookie) Jiju Janardhan, and the confession that Delhi Police got out of Sreesanth. The standard of evidence was not enough for the Delhi HC to convict him, but the committee had argued that in its efforts to protect the dignity of the game, it needed to be more careful. In its judgement, the Kerala HC contested the committee’s arguments, saying that a confession was inadmissible as it could have been easily forced out of the bowler. As far as the conversation went, there was no suggestion from the recording that Sreesanth was involved in the betting scandal directly. The court also said that even he did have knowledge of the spot-fixing, the four year ban he has served should be more than enough punishment.
The court took exception to the public conduct of Sreesanth in the wake of the controversy, though, remarking that he should have denounced the conduct of Jiju publicly. “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,” the judgment said.