The Supreme Court on Friday set aside the BCCI disciplinary committee's order imposing a life ban on former Indian cricketer S. Sreesanth for his alleged involvement in the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and K .M. Joseph said the disciplinary committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) may reconsider within three months the quantum of punishment to be given to Sreesanth.
The bench made it clear that the 35-year-old former cricketer will get the opportunity to be heard by the committee on the quantum of punishment.
The apex court also said that its verdict shall have no effect on the criminal proceedings pending against the former cricketer in Delhi High Court, where Delhi police have challenged a trial court's order discharging all accused, including Sreesanth, in the IPL spot-fixing case.
The bench passed the order on Sreesanth's plea challenging the decision of a division bench of Kerala High Court, which had restored the life ban imposed by the BCCI.
A single-judge bench of Kerala High Court had lifted the life ban and had set aside all proceedings against him initiated by the board. Later, the division bench of the high court restored the ban on a petition filed by the BCCI against the single-judge bench's order.
The BCCI had on February 28 told the apex court that the life ban imposed on Sreesanth was 'fully sustainable in law' as he had 'tried to influence' a match.
Sreesanth's lawyer had countered the arguments and had told the court that no spot-fixing took place during the IPL match and allegations levelled against the cricketer were not substantiated by evidence.
Senior advocate Parag Tripathi, appearing for the BCCI, had referred to recorded telephonic conversations and told the court it was clear that money had been demanded and was 'probably received' also.
He said there were allegations that Rs 10 lakh was paid to Sreesanth for conceding 14 runs in his second over in an IPL match between the Rajasthan Royals and the Kings XI Punjab at Mohali in May 2013.
Sreesanth had earlier claimed in the top court that the life ban was 'completely unfair”.
The former cricketer, who was arrested and later discharged by a trial court here in July 2015 in a criminal case related to the alleged spot-fixing, had claimed he had to confess his involvement in the case as the police tortured him in custody and threatened to implicate his family.
His counsel had argued that according to the allegations, Sreesanth was supposed to concede 14 runs in an over but he gave away 13 runs and the commentary during the match reflected he had not bowled loose deliveries in that over.
The apex court had last year asked Delhi High Court to decide expeditiously the appeal filed by Delhi police, challenging a trial court order discharging several accused, including Sreesanth.
Delhi police had arrested Sreesanth, along with cricketers Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan and others, on charges of spot-fixing.
As many as 36 accused in the spot-fixing case, including Sreesanth, Chavan and Chandila, were discharged by the trial court here in July 2015. The BCCI, however, had refused to alter its disciplinary decision.