The Indian bribery scandal June 2, 2004

Abhijit Kale banned till December 31

Wisden Cricinfo staff

Jagmohan Dalmiya: 'No extreme punishment could be given to Kale without proof' © AFP

Abhijit Kale, the Maharashtra batsman who was accused last year of offering bribes to two national selectors, has been banned by the Indian board (BCCI) until December 31 this year. Kiran More and Pranab Roy, both members of the national selection committee, had complained that Kale had offered them a bribe last year to ensure himself a place in the Indian squad to tour Australia. Kale had denied the comments.

However, the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) is planning to ask the Indian board to reconsider the decision. Speaking to Wisden Cricinfo shortly after the announcement, Dynaeshwar Agashe, the chairman of the MCA, said: "If he has not given any bribe this is a very harsh decision. He has already lost one season of cricket and suffered last year. So we are going to request the BCCI to reconsider the decision. If the evidence is inconclusive, this punishment is too much."

Agashe also said that the Maharashtra selectors would not hold this against Kale, and would continue to pick him if he is fit and can find a place in the side on the merit of his consistent performances.

A BCCI enquiry was then instituted, which completed its investigation recently and submitted its report to the board. According to the television channel, NDTV, Kale has given a letter of apology to the BCCI, in which he admits that he tried to "influence the selectors", while insisting that he had never tried to bribe them.

Kale's letter said: "The entire episode has unnecessarily tarnished the image of the board. I accept that it was wrong on my part to influence the selectors by approaching them directly or through my parents. With regard to the issue of offering money to the selectors, I wish to state that I was misunderstood and I assure you that I had no such intention. I tender [an] unqualified apology for my said act."

The BCCI, not having enough evidence to hand Kale a harsh sentence, has, thus, decided to ban him for a year, with the sentence beginning retrospectively, and thus running till December 31 this year. Jagmohan Dalmiya, the board president, justified the punishment, saying: "The disciplinary committee unanimously felt that although a strong case of offering money was made out against Abhijit Kale, no extreme or severe punishment should be given to him in the absence of direct proof.

"However," he continued, "there [has] been cogent proof of Kale trying to influence the selectors directly, or through his parents, which he has admitted in his unconditional apology letter. The disciplinary committee held Kale guilty of gross misconduct and indiscipline. Taking into account Kale's personal future career and his unconditional apologies as well as the suspension that he had undergone since November 21, 2003, the disciplinary committee decided that he should remain suspended till December 31, 2004."

Dalmiya also had a word about the complainants. "In addition to this," he said, "the disciplinary committee also felt that the two national selectors, More and Roy, should have intimated Kale's attempt to influence them forthwith to the board, instead of delaying it. The committee recommended to the board [the idea of] framing a code of conduct for the selectors in the future."

More, one of the selectors who accused Kale, said that he welcomed the decision and respected the board's judgment.