SC to Delhi HC: Decide plea against Sreesanth’s discharge in spot-fixing

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NEW DELHI, May 15 (PTI): The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied cricketer S Sreesanth’s plea for being allowed to play the English County this season but asked Delhi High Court to decide by July an appeal challenging a trial court order discharging several cricketers, including him, in the sensational IPL spot-fixing case.

The top court denied interim relief to the controversial cricketer, who has been banned for life by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), that he be allowed to play English County on the ground that he has suffered the ban for four years and has been acquitted by a Delhi court in the case.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar said though it understood Sreesanth’s “anxiety” to play, but would like to wait for the high court’s decision on the appeal of the Delhi Police challenging the trial court order discharging the cricketers and others in the spot-fixing case.

The Delhi Police had arrested Sreesanth, along with cricketers Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan, and others on charges of spot fixing during the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2013.

As many as 36 accused in the spot-fixing case, including Sreesanth, Chavan and Chandila, were let-off by a Patiala House court in July, 2015. The Delhi Police had later challenged the Patiala High Court decision in the Delhi High Court.

The BCCI had however refused to alter its disciplinary decision even after the verdict.

On being asked to respond, senior lawyer Parag Tripathi, appearing for BCCI, today told the court that it did not “give him joy” to say that there was substantial evidence against the cricketer. It was like this: “I take money from a client and compromise his interest by taking money from the other person”, he said.

Tripathi alleged the case against Sreesanth was “open and shut” as the telephonic conversations had revealed that he took money for bowling ‘no balls’ during an IPL match in 2013. The conversation involved talk on division of money between the cricketer and a bookie for bowling ‘no balls’ in a particular IPL match, he claimed.

Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, appearing for Sreesanth, said, “this is a matter of an outstanding cricketer” who has been discharged in the criminal case and has faced the ban for last four years.

He said that as an interim measure, the cricketer should be allowed play abroad in the English county in the current season.

“We will ask the Delhi High Court to decide the appeal by end of July. The counsel for parties shall cooperate in disposal of appeal by not taking adjournments,” the bench said.

Sreesanth has challenged in the apex court the decision of a division bench of the Kerala High Court restoring the ban imposed on him by the BCCI.

The apex court had on February 5 sought response from the BCCI and two members of the committee, which had recommended the life ban on Sreesanth, over his plea challenging a Kerala High Court verdict restoring the life ban imposed on him by the apex cricket body in the wake of the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal.

A single-judge bench of the Kerala High Court had on August 7 last year lifted the life ban imposed on 34-year-old Sreesanth by the BCCI and set aside all proceedings against him initiated by the board.

A division bench of the high court had later restored the ban on a petition filed by the BCCI against the single-judge bench’s order.

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