Corruption in the IPL September 14, 2013

Sreesanth ban 'against principles of natural justice'


Sreesanth's legal counsel has called the life ban imposed by the BCCI "bizarre", against the principles of natural justice and unlikely to stand legal scrutiny, and said the player would challenge the ban in court once he received a copy of the order. A day after Sreesanth was handed the ban by the BCCI's disciplinary committee, his counsel Rebecca John said the biggest flaw was the report drew heavily on the police findings in the criminal case, which itself is yet to reach a verdict.

The sanctions were based on the report compiled by the board's anti-corruption commissioner Ravi Sawani.

"The [BCCI] order is completely against the principles of natural justice," John told ESPNcricinfo. If Sawani had relied so heavily on the findings of Delhi Police, she said, then the least he and the BCCI should have done was wait for the final verdict by the Patiala House Court in Delhi, which is hearing the case.

"It has based its findings on personal interactions with members of Delhi Police as well as taken material from the chargesheet that has been filed by the police before a sessions court. If that is so then they should have waited for the court to determine whether or not any of this holds up in legal proceedings. They just picked up conversations they had with members of Delhi Police where they said Sreesanth and other members of the cricketing community confessed before them. It is a very, very loose report with little or no substance in it," John, who was hired by Sreesanth as soon as Delhi Police arrested him on corruption charges during the IPL in May, said.

She pointed out that the evidence produced by Delhi Police against all the Rajasthan Royal players was found to be insufficient to keep them in custody - the sessions court has granted bail to all of them, including Sreesanth. "The fact is that the sessions court has released players on bail and said none of this adds up as a case. [The court said] it is very, very tenuous - the link between whatever bookie you are saying had a role to play and the players, particularly Sreesanth, and granted him bail. And then this BCCI's one-man committee says that Sreesanth is guilty of spot-fixing and hands over a life sentence to him. Not only is it is excessive, it is completely contrary to all principles of natural justice."

John said that from what she had read of his report on the internet, Sawani's findings, especially on Sreesanth, never added up to a case. "How does he come to a conclusion? By having personal conversations with police officials. And you are basing your findings on these?"

In his report Sawani had noted that he listened to and read the transcripts of audio tapes in possession of Delhi Police of conversations between Sreesanth and the alleged bookie. "If you want to read these audio tapes, which are part of the Delhi Police [evidence] in a criminal trial, the link is so tenuous. You will believe it only because the Special Cell of Delhi Police is saying you will have to believe it in a particular way. In any case these are allegations which have to be assessed, processed and a finding has to be determined by a court of law," John said.

According to John Sreesanth is on bail only because "prima facie" Delhi Police had not managed to press a foolproof case against him. "The only reason the life ban was imposed - Mr Srinivasan was very keen to tell the public and the people of India he was treating [the issue] with a heavy hand and some people had to be made scapegoats," John said.

"What is more annoying from the point of the view of the players is that they have let the big fish get away. What happens to Mr Srinivasan. He is owner of Chennai Super Kings and there is a case of conflict of interest pending in the Supreme Court against him. The Bombay High Court recently had called the two-member committee illegal after it cleared Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra [part of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals] from corruption charges.

"Now when the BCCI, of which Srinivasan is the de facto or de jure head, conducts itself in this kind of fashion and then it hands over these sentences to players, who are soft targets, it is a little bizarre," John said.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on September 17, 2013, 4:45 GMT

    what ever said and done all involved in this kind of foul play should be penalised and punished severly to be a example to others and to keep the game clean

  • Senthil Kumar on September 17, 2013, 2:57 GMT

    Seems like Sreesanth hired apologists to counter his accusation, I doubt all these apologists have even read Mr.Sawani's findings. Some are even blaming a country we are failing before regional favoritism and these guys who are defending Sreesanth are one of the worst. Now that small fishes have been caught, time to punish the big fishes.

  • Dummy4 on September 16, 2013, 5:38 GMT

    very unlucky player. and very wrong action taken. if ICC and BCCI and Indian police knw about the reality then catch the bookies and there links. we all knw how much money is involve in IPLs and its effects there economy. and thy taking action against these small players which is useless.

  • Himanshu on September 16, 2013, 4:36 GMT

    Even if Sreesanth is guilty, BCCI must first get rid of Srinivasan, Meyyapan and Raj Kundra. Only after that it should think of 'punishing' the players. Unless Srinivasan is running the show, forming commitees, which even the court finds illegal, there is going to be no credibility of whatever actions the BCCI takes against anyone. I am not saying these 3 players are innocent (though I do feel Siddharth Trivedi is innocent), but BCCI is in no position to punish them, untill it is run by Srinicasan.

  • Ravi Kumar on September 16, 2013, 4:10 GMT

    The life ban was, as Sreesanth's lawyer pointed out, a case of the BCCI trying to make it look like they had taken action in the entire IPL spot fixing business. Ravi Sawani's haste in declaring Sreesanth and the rest guilty might well come back to haunt the BCCI as the courts have yet to reach a conclusion - the preliminary assessment earlier this year in fact seemed to have reached the conclusion that Delhi Police did not have a case. However, this is par for the course for the BCCI whose "life ban" handed out to Azharuddin was also thrown out by the courts. Unfortunately, though, as in the case of Azharuddin, this will come at great professional loss to the likes of Sreesanth whose careers have almost irretrievably damaged by the BCCI's hamhandedness.

  • Shwetank on September 16, 2013, 2:38 GMT

    Due process needs to be followed I agree, but Sreesanth has never been far away from controversy. It's little surprise that despite hearing the full story, many cricket fans have jumped to thinking he is more guilty than not. Even if he is cleared to play, he should not be allowed back in the National team if his general attitude and his performances don't improve. There are many others in line before him doing the right things (per current perceptions), so it's hard to see him come back any time soon.

  • Srinivas on September 15, 2013, 23:26 GMT

    I'm sure he can afford these fancy lawyers now but he's just clutching at the straws. I mean he's taking on a board that sees it fit to jeopardise an entire tour because it doesn't get along with one man.

  • Madhu on September 15, 2013, 21:03 GMT

    If the judiciary acquits him, the ban should be off

  • Dummy4 on September 15, 2013, 19:30 GMT

    The Delhi Police are trying to make a case of spot-fixing basis confessions they received out of bookies that the bookies paid SreeSanth to under-perform & give the batting side runs ! I find it hilarious & against cricketing common sense - 1) SreeSanth's bowling is so inconsistent that he would probably give runs to the batsman for free ! Only a fool would see the need to pay him. 2) Even if SreeSanth bowls a nice leg-stump fulltoss at the batsman, how can Sree guarantee that the batsman will get the runs & not top-edge it & get out caught ?

  • Vihan on September 15, 2013, 19:20 GMT

    This is inane. Ban for life really? Come on. It's just a sport....why take it this seriously....