Scandal-hit India pacer S Sreesanth on Wednesday (January 30) claimed in the Supreme Court that his confession for being involved in the 2013 IPL spot-fixing saga was a forced one since the Delhi Police had threatened to torture his family.
However, the Supreme Court questioned Sreesanth for not immediately bringing it to the notice of BCCI that he was being approached for alleged spot-fixing. The apex court also observed that conduct of Sreesanth in the entire episode was “not good”.
Sreesanth, 35, has been banned for life by the BCCI for his alleged involvement in the disgraceful scandal. Although he was cleared by a Delhi court in 2015, the life ban imposed on him by the board still stands.
"The police had threatened me that my family members would be tortured and implicated unless I confess," senior advocate Salman Khurshid, appearing for Sreesanth, told the court.
Khurshid said it was not established that any spot-fixing was done in the match played between IPL teams Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab at Mohali in May 2013 and there was no conclusive evidence that the cricketer received any payment for doing this.
"Why didn''t you (Sreesanth) bring it immediately to the notice of the board (BCCI)," the bench asked Khurshid after he referred to recorded telephonic conversations between alleged bookies.
The senior counsel said Sreesanth had failed to inform the board about him being approached for spot-fixing but even if he did not do this, the maximum ban that could be imposed upon him was five years.
"All this indicates that conduct of S Sreesanth was not good. There is no doubt about this," the bench said.
Khurshid argued that as per allegations, Sreesanth was supposed to concede 14 runs in an over but he gave away 13 runs in that over which he bowled to "two of the best batsmen" -- Adam Gilchrist and Shaun Marsh. "At the worst, it could be said that I (Sreesanth) had the knowledge that somebody was trying to do fixing and I should have brought it to the notice of the authorities. If that is the case, the total ban could be up to five years," he said.
He said the world over, suspensions have been imposed on cricketers for indulging in such activities and except former South African captain Hansie Cronje, who later died in 2002 in a plane crash, life ban was not imposed on anyone.
Khurshid referred to the case of former Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin, who was accused for his alleged involvement in a match-fixing scandal of 2000, and said that life ban was imposed on him but it was reversed later.
"My (Sreesanth) desire is to get back my honour," Khurshid told the bench, adding, "Ultimately, I am wasting my professional career. At least, let me play outside India. Every year, I am getting offers to play.
"I have been given life ban for an offence which is not at all established," he said, adding that there was no evidence of payment of Rs 10 lakh to Sreesanth for the alleged fixing.
Khurshid said recorded telephonic conversations did not show that the match was fixed and evidence produced by Delhi Police was not accepted by the trial court. Senior advocate Parag Tripathi, appearing for Committee of Administrators (CoA) of BCCI, raised the issue of veracity of translation of the telephonic conversations referred to by Sreesanth's counsel and said he needs to file a reply on this.
Tripathi said he would also respond to the additional documents filed by the petitioner. The bench asked Tripathi to file his response and posted the matter for further hearing on February 20.
The apex court said that Sreesanth's counsel may also file the certified copy of complete transcripts of telephonic conversations that have been brought on record.
Sreesanth was given a chance to resume his cricketing career in August 2017 after the Kerala High Court lifted the ban on him. However, the decision didn’t go down well with the BCCI as they filed a petition against a single-judge bench's order.
Consequently, a division bench of the Kerala High Court, comprising of Chief Justice Navaniti Prasad Singh and Justice Raja Vijayaraghavan reinstated the life ban on the Kerala speedster in October 2017.
(With PTI inputs)