New Delhi: Cricket is viewed as a “synonym for gentlemanliness” as it involves discipline, fair play and high standards of morality, the Supreme Court said Friday while underlining that the increasing interest in the game has raised issues of its regulation, control and management.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and K M Joseph said sports occupy a prominent place in the life of an individual and a nation as it not only gives physical or moral strength to one’s personality, but spreads the message of goodwill and friendship.
It said that in the 21st century, countries have come “closer and nearer” to each other and sports have become a “medium of bonds”.
The observations by the bench came while setting aside the BCCI disciplinary committee’s order imposing a life ban on cricketer S Sreesanth for his alleged involvement in the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal.
The apex court said the disciplinary committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) may reconsider within three months the quantum of punishment to be given to Sreesanth.
“Cricket, it is said, is a synonym for gentlemanliness which means discipline, fair play, modest and high standard of morality,” the bench said, adding that “the ever increasing interest in the game of cricket in our country has raised issues of its regulation, control and management”.
The apex court said that zero tolerance towards any wrong-doing in cricket meant that any offence committed within the anti-corruption code cannot be ignored or leniently dealt with.
However, it said that zero tolerance approach cannot dilute consideration of relevant factors while imposing sanction under Article 6 of the BCCI’s anti-corruption code and in cases where offences under the code, which relates to corruption, are proved, the disciplinary committee was not obliged to award a life time ban each time.
In its 74-page judgement, the bench said when a maximum and minimum punishment is provided, then the discretion to chose one of the two “has to be exercised on relevant facts and circumstances”.
It further said, “Without considering the relevant provisions of Anti-Corruption Code, the disciplinary committee has imposed a life time ban on the appellant (Sreesanth) which sanction cannot be held to be in accordance with the Anti-Corruption Code itself.”
In India the BCCI, a registered society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, exercises sufficient control on all aspects of game of Cricket and has framed various code of conduct for all who are associated with it, the bench said.
The apex court delivered verdict on Sreesanth’s plea challenging the decision of a division bench of the Kerala High Court which had restored the life ban imposed on him by the BCCI.