The Supreme Court on Friday scrapped cricketer S. Sreesanth’s life ban for match-fixing but stopped short of acquitting the paceman.
The court said Sreesanth’s long-running case had been badly handled and gave the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) three months to reconsider his punishment.
Sreesanth, 36, was arrested for illegal betting and spot-fixing during the 2013 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) along with teammates Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila.
Police also launched legal proceedings against several officials of the Rajasthan Royals franchise which was later banned from the IPL for two years.
Sreesanth, who was released on bail, faces separate criminal proceedings in the Delhi High Court.
“The life ban has been lifted and that’s a big thing,” Sreesanth said after the ruling.
“The court has given me a huge lifeline and I am happy with the opportunity given to me,” said the bowler who was 13 short of 100 Test wickets when he was banned.
“There are so many leagues happening all around the country and cricket is my bread and butter. To take care of my family, I need cricket back.”
Sreesanth’s lawyer argued that no evidence had been found to prove that he underperformed in return for cash from bookmakers.
“The team (Rajasthan Royals) and its owners were banned for two years only. It is completely unfair that a life ban was imposed on him (Sreesanth),” his lawyer Salman Khurshid was quoted as saying by the local media.
The IPL, which is broadcast around the world, is hugely popular in India with its mix of sport and showbiz, with a number of teams fronted by big Bollywood names.
But it has been continuously dogged by corruption allegations.
Chennai Super Kings, led by former Indian captain M.S. Dhoni, was also banned for two years after its owner Gurunath Meiyappan was held guilty on charges of betting and passing on information to bookmakers.
The BCCI said Friday it respected the court’s order and would take up Sreesanth’s case in its next meeting.
The 11th edition of the IPL will start on March 23 with a game between Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore in Chennai.