Amit Singh and Siddharth Trivedi get lesser sentences; reprieve for Harmeet Singh

An hour after S. Sreesanth expressed his faith in the “judiciary and the BCCI”, the Disciplinary Committee of the Board banned him, along with Ankeet Chavan, for life, for their involvement in spot-fixing during certain matches of the Indian Premier League this summer.

The committee comprising N. Srinivasan, Arun Jaitley and Niranjan Shah, heard other accused Amit Singh, Siddharth Trivedi and Harmeet Singh during a meeting that lasted nearly four hours.

Amit Singh was handed a five-year ban, Trivedi was banned for one year and young Harmeet was let off owing to lack of evidence as per the report submitted by the Board’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) chief Ravi Sawani entrusted to enquire into the allegations of match-fixing and spot-fixing during the IPL.

Incidentally, all the four players punished belong to Rahul Dravid-led Rajasthan Royals.

The disgraced players have been banned from playing any representative cricket, or in any way being associated with the activities of the BCCI or its affiliates.

Chandila’s fate awaited

The fate of Ajit Chandila will be known after Sawani completes his report and forwards it to the disciplinary committee. Chandila, who managed to get bail on September 9, is yet to face Sawani and the disciplinary committee.

“Each case is different and so are the charges against each player,” explained Jaitley when asked about Chandila’s status. “The decision of the disciplinary committee is final and is not required to be ratified by any other committee of the Board.”

Sreesanth, Chandila and Chavan, besides 26 others, were arrested in May following investigations by Delhi Police. The police made the arrests on the basis of recorded telephone conversations suggesting Sreesanth had conceded a pre-determined number of runs for monetary considerations from certain bookies. The police had claimed that it had ample evidence to prove the involvement of Chandila and Chavan in spot-fixing.

The investigations later led to the arrests of Amit Singh and Harmeet while Trivedi told police that he was offered money by bookies but he did not accept it. Sawani had prepared his report based on the findings of the Delhi Police as well as his questioning of the involved players.

In June, the court gave bail to Sreesanth and Chavan along with 19 others for lack evidence to be tried under Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, 1999 (MCOCA).

On Friday, the players were heard by turns with Sreesanth being the last on the list.

Sreesanth and Chavan have joined Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Sharma in the list of international cricketers banned for life by the Board’s disciplinary committee.

In December 2000, when the Board found Azharuddin and Ajay Sharma guilty of match-fixing, it had also banned Manoj Prabhakar and Ajay Jadeja for five years each, while a similar quantum of punishment was also served to the team’s former physiotherapist Ali Irani.

It may be recalled that Azharuddin and Jadeja separately approached the judiciary against the Board’s verdicts. Jadeja’s ban ended in three years after a favourable ruling by the Delhi High Court. He returned to first-class cricket by captaining Delhi in Ranji Trophy and later led Rajasthan, too.

Azhar found relief in November last year when the Andhra Pradesh High Court set aside the life ban.

In June last year, the Board dealt firmly with a few first-class cricketers for their involvement with bookies following a sting-operation by a news channel. Madhya Pradesh cricketers T.P. Sudhindra and Mohnish Mishra, who represented Deccan Chargers, were banned for life and one-year respectively.

The Kings’ XI Punjab’s trio of Amit Yadav (one year), Abhinav Bali (one year) and Shalabh Srivastava (five years) were punished for their involvement.

According to an official, the Board has shown “welcome intent to handle the corruption-related cases strictly. These sentences should help in re-building the Board’s image.”

Special Correspondent reports from Kolkata

BCCI interim president Jagmohan Dalmiya hailed the life ban on Sreesanth and Ankeet Chavan for their involvement in the IPL spot-fixing controversy.

“I welcome the decision. It will act as exemplary punishment,” Dalmiya said after the BCCI disciplinary committee announced the punishment.

“Those who have been punished should learn a lesson. I hope this decision deters others from indulging in such acts in future,” Dalmiya told reporters here.

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