India news November 23, 2012

BCCI defers decision on Azhar

ESPNcricinfo staff

The BCCI was forced to "defer" its decision regarding former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin's life ban due to the complications in the Andhra Pradesh High Court's order.

After the court termed the BCCI's life ban on Azharuddin as "unsustainable" in its order on November 8, the BCCI's working committee discussed the issue during its meeting in Mumbai on November 21. But rather than deciding the future course of action, the committee deferred the matter till the next meeting.

A BCCI insider, who attended the meeting, said the deferment was primarily due to "complications in the judgment order."

"Nowhere does the judgment mention that he [Azharuddin] did not indulge in match-fixing. At the same time, the honourable court has lashed out at the then BCCI president [AC Muthiah] for unilaterally conducting the enquiry and imposing a ban. So it's a tough call for the board as to how to perceive the verdict," the member told ESPNcricinfo. "The board will take as much time as it takes before arriving at a conclusion."

The insider added that the major bone of contention from the court's perspective was the lack of provision for an enquiry committee in the then BCCI constitution. "Such a provision was added during an amendment to the constitution after the match-fixing episode."

In 2000, after the Central Bureau of Investigation, India's central investigative agency, exposed the nexus between some of the high-profile cricketers, including Azharuddin, and bookies. It resulted in former South Africa captain Hansie Cronje being banned for life. The BCCI also acted swiftly and on the basis of the CBI report and an inquiry conducted by K Madhavan, it banned Azharuddin and former Test player Ajay Sharma for life, while imposed a five-year ban on two other Test cricketers - Ajay Jadeja and Manoj Prabhakar - besides physiotherapist Ali Irani.

While Jadeja returned to first-class cricket after the Delhi High Court quashed the ban in January 2003, Azharuddin has been fighting the case for over a decade. It remains to be seen if the BCCI decides to appeal against the high court verdict in the Supreme Court, India's apex court.

Meanwhile, hours after Thursday's working committee meeting, Azharuddin, now a member of parliament of the ruling Congress party, made an appearance at the annual BCCI awards after a gap of six years. Though he clarified that he had been getting invites all these years and he couldn't attend the function due to other commitments, his presence suggested that he could have met some of the top brass of the BCCI.