No BCCI mercy for banned players

New Delhi (Mail Today): The five players banned for spot- fixing and ‘loose talk’ are not expected to get any relief from the Indian cricket board, which has shut all doors on them as its specially constituted disciplinary committee has folded up.

Not even mercy petitions would be accepted, a top official of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) who is well versed with the law of the land, said on Sunday.

The official said that the three-member disciplinary committee, which was constituted to study the report of inquiry commissioner Ravi Sawani and determine the quantum of punishment for the players, was no more in existence.

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“People [ the banned players] can suo moto appeal. They are free to write to the Board for mercy, but it is unlikely that their appeals would be looked into. It is because the disciplinary committee has become functus officio, which means it is no more in existence as it has completed the purpose for which it was created,” a top BCCI official told MAIL TODAY. It is learnt that at a couple of the banned players are contemplating moving a mercy petition with the BCCI. But in view of the firm opinion about the unlikely acceptance of their appeals, they would have to explore perhaps the only other option left – move a court of law.

BCCI chief N Srinivasan headed the disciplinary committee, which also comprised vice- presidents Arun Jaitley and Niranjan Shah.

The committee banned Deccan Chargers pacer TP Sudhindra for life for “receiving a consideration to spot-fix in a domestic match”, Kings XI Punjab pacer Shalabh Srivastava for five years “ for agreeing to fix a match” besides handing one-year suspensions to Amit Yadav (Kings XI Punjab), Mohnish Mishra (Pune Warriors India) and Abhinav Bali (Himachal Pradesh) for “bringing the game into disrepute”. All bans will be effective from May 15, when they were suspended following the telecast of a sting operation by India TV a day earlier. In the video, the players were seen discussing money for changing their IPL teams.

Mukul Mudgal, retired chief justice of the Punjab & Haryana High Court, felt that the players were unlikely to get relief, if they were to make an appeal.

“It (appeal) is unlikely to be accepted. The BCCI obviously wants to maintain a clean image,” Mudgal told MAIL TODAY. Mudgal, who was an advisor on the Woolf Committee that recommended large scale changes in the ICC structure, pointed out that since a legal expert like Jaitley was on the disciplinary committee, it was expected to be well versed with the law in the type of offences players have committed.

“The players can go to a writ court, but considering the cricket atmosphere these days – of match and spot-fixing allegations flying around – this court too is unlikely to accept their appeal,” felt the former Delhi high court judge.

When told that some players were contemplating moving a mercy petition with the BCCI, Mudgal said: “My reading is that it would also not be accepted.” Another top BCCI official, however, said that the case of Srivastava might get some relief, if he were to move a court of law.

“The point he can emphasise is that he did not act on what he talked about in the sting operation. It’s possible the court may reduce his five-year ban,” he opined.

If Srivastava, now close to 31 years and who has had a knee surgery, indeed moves a court and his appeal is rejected, his career would almost certainly be over as he would be almost 36 by that time his ban gets over.

“I still maintain I am innocent and I’ve not got justice. When I spoke to BCCI officials, I told them that I’ve never been involved in any match- fixing. I told them that I haven’t even played in this year’s IPL. I thought I’d get proper justice and won't be punished as I am innocent,” Srivastava told PTI from Shirdi, Maharashtra, where he has gone on a pilgrimage.

There are indications that the players who have been banned for one year — effectively only 10-and-a-half months are now left as the ban is effective from May 15 – may lie low or, at the most, appeal to the Board to reduce their suspension period, an option which has already been closed.

One of them said since he did not spot-fix matches he was keen to get rid of the stigma, he might move a mercy petition. He almost ruled out moving a court.

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