IPL Spotfixing: Was Sreesanth Found Guilty Or Not?

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The IPL has always attracted attention for the sheer amount of money it attracts, the stars that glitz at every match, and the larger-than-life demeanor of the team owners. The IPL has always seemed too good to be true and cynics point to a seedy underbelly of match-fixing.

One of the bigger names to have been suspended from the IPL and eventually banned for life was S Sreesanth. A mercurial fast-bowler who often attracted equal amounts of admiration and ridicule, Sreesanth was given relief from the life-ban put on him by the BCCI in 2019 from the Supreme Court of India.

So, what exactly happened and what are the legal findings that we can learn from the entire issue?

Sreesanth was found guilty of match-fixing in IPL 2013 on the basis of a recorded conversation between one of Sreesanth’s friends and a bookie. Spot-fixing is a big bane in live sports around the world and often comes to light when big betting websites like Betway are able to find aberrant betting patterns.

Sreesanth was supposedly contracted to give away more than 14 runs in an over and although he gave away only 13, was arrested by the Delhi Police on the basis of evidence collected against him. An investigation into the act was carried out by the BCCI and Sreesanth was found to be guilty. He was banned for life from all cricketing activities.

No Appropriate Law

What followed was a long drawn-out affair where a trial court in Delhi dropped all charges against Sreesanth primarily because the Delhi Police had charged him under the MCOCA act which was considered far too strict for such an offense.

The reason why this act was used was because gambling is illegal in India and there are no specific laws that deal with match-fixing or spot-fixing. This is not the case in the United Kingdom where a few of cricket’s recent high-profile cricketers have been tried successfully with prison sentences being meted out to the guilty cricketers.

A High Court That Cannot Make Up Its Mind

Sreesanth then sought to have his life-ban overturned in the Kerela High-Court. The case was filed in February 2017  and in August, Sreesanth managed to get a favorable decision. However, just two months later, the BCCI managed to get the same Kerela High Court to reverse its own decision once again.

A Victory That Was Not Quite What It Was Made Out To Be

The case then went to the Supreme Court which found the BCCI decision to find Sreesanth guilty as valid. It said that unlike criminal proceedings, a private organization did not have to adhere to the same standards of evidence. Probably evidence of wrongdoing and failure to report approaches from bookies were enough to land Sreesanth into trouble with the BCCI.

The Supreme Court, however, did rule that the life ban meted out by BCCI could be seen as a bit too harsh and should be revisited. This is something that Sreesanth shared with all his followers and to anyone who would listen as a huge victory.

Take Away

The legal system of India has many archaic laws and not enough modern ones to deal with the scourge of spot-fixing. For a game like cricket that captures the attention of the majority of the people, this is something that is long due. Until then, players like Sreesanth will continue to get acquittals even though the evidence of their wrong-doing is pretty clear.

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