The BCCI has appealed to the Kerala High Court challenging the single bench's order, which had directed the board to lift the lifetime ban on cricketer S Sreesanth. The fast bowler had been out of cricket for four years since his involvement in a match-fixing scandal during the 2013 IPL.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India has questioned the single bench’s decision, which had ordered the cricket board last month to lift the ban following a petition filed by the cricketer in March that challenged BCCI's decision not to lift the ban despite a Delhi court exonerating him in 2015.
BCCI's chief executive officer Rahul Johri, who has filed the appeal, said, “The court shouldn’t have interfered in Sreesanth’s matter. The ban was imposed on the basis of evidence and steps were taken to ensure natural justice.”
The board has argued that they cannot withdraw the ban only because Sreesanth was exonerated by a Delhi sessions court. In the appeal, BCCI has stated that the standard of proof (quality of evidence) needed in a disciplinary proceeding is lesser compared to what is required in a criminal proceeding in a court of law.
Kerala High Court had, however, dismissed BCCI’s appeal earlier, stating that it cannot accept the board’s stand that evidence of a lower quality is acceptable. According to them, BCCI had failed to appreciate the evidence as a whole and a piece-meal approach was adopted, which prevented the disciplinary committee from finding the whole truth.
BCCI’s decision to place a ban on Sreesanth relied only on an alleged confession by the player to the police, and the single bench had pointed out that there was no evidence if it was voluntary on the player’s part, especially with Sreesanth reiterating later that it was forced out of him.
There was also an audio recording of a telephonic conversation between Sreesanth's friend Jiju Janardhanan and a bookie, it was stated by the single bench as unreliable as it had nothing to show Sreesanth's direct role in it. The court had said that even it is assumed that Sreesanth had knowledge about the betting, his four-year ban should more than suffice as a punishment.
In 2013, the BCCI Disciplinary Committee, headed by present Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, had slapped a life ban on Sreesanth for his involvement in a match-fixing scandal. However, he along with two other players were exonerated by the Delhi court in 2015.
Sreesanth has since been preparing to make a dramatic return to the national side and had even filed a petition in the Kerala High court demanding an NOC (No Objection Certificate) from BCCI that will clear him to play for Glenrothes Cricket Club in Scotland.