The Division Bench of the Kerala High Court has allowed the appeal filed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India(BCCI), and has thereby restored the life ban imposed on S.Sreesanth on charges of indulging in spot-fixing during IPL matches. Earlier, a single bench of the High Court had quashed the ban imposed by BCCI on the cricketer. Against the judgment of the single bench, the BCCI filed the appeal before Division Bench.
The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Navaniti Prasad Singh and Justice Raja Vijayaraghavan held that the scrutiny of disciplinary proceedings can only be on limited grounds under writ jurisdiction. The writ court cannot examine the merits of the decision, and can only examine if the decision making process had been fair and proper. However, the single judge had substituted its own findings as if it was had appellate power over BCCI. That was termed as improper and exceeding the limits of judicial review.
The contention of Sreesanth that there was violation of principles of natural justice was rejected. The cricketer contended that the preliminary enquiry was held while the cricketer was under custody by Delhi Police, and that without hearing his version the enquiry officer had reached conclusions of guilt in the preliminary report. The Division Bench did not find anything wrong in the approach of the enquiry officer, and observed that the preliminary report was followed by a supplementary report, which was prepared after notice to Sreesanth. The Division Bench also noted that Sreesanth had not denied the allegations specifically in his reply statement.
Also, the Court held that discharge in criminal proceedings has no bearing on disciplinary proceedings, and hence the discharge in criminal cases registered by Delhi Police was of no consequence. The Division Bench further observed that the Single Judge had termed that the punishment was disproportionate and extreme, thereby necessarily implying that the Single Judge too was in agreement with the findings of guilt entered by the BCCI. It was also observed that Sreesanth had sworn by the Anti-Corruption Code of the BCCI, and by violating it through his acts of spot-fixing during IPL matches, he committed grave breach. Therefore, the Court expressed that he was no entitled to any leniency and upheld the life ban imposed by BCCI without any reduction.