Hyderabad/New Delhi: Twelve years after being slapped with a life ban on match-fixing charges, former India cricket captain Mohammed Azharuddin on Thursday got relief from the Andhra Pradesh High Court which held the BCCI action as 'illegal' and 'unsustainable'.
Setting aside the ban that was imposed in the aftermath of Hansie Cronje episode, a bench of justices Ashutosh Mohanta and Krishna Mohan Reddy allowed Azharuddin's appeal challenging the order of a local court, which had upheld the decision of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
The cricket body had imposed the ban after a three-member committee had found him guilty of match-fixing charges.
The three-member BCCI committee comprised of erstwhile president A C Muthaiah and two vice-presidents Kamal Morarka and K M Ram Prasad decided to impose life ban on Azharuddin.
Azharuddin, 49, hailed the verdict but ruled out taking any legal action in the matter. The Congress MP from Moradabad told reporters in Delhi that he was willing to work with BCCI for development of cricket.
The BCCI reacted cautiously saying it will analyze the judgement before taking any decision.
The bench agreed with Azharuddin's counsel K Ramakant Reddy's argument that there was no evidence against the former cricketer that he succumbed to any pressure while playing cricket.
The court also observed that BCCI had proceeded against Azharuddin unilaterally.
Azharuddin's lawyer Ramakant Reddy said the court rejected the BCCI's contention that its actions cannot be challenged in the courts of law.
He said his argument was that the ban was not based on the evidence and that the constitution of the enquiry committee itself was not correct.
The lawyer had argued that due procedures were not followed in imposing the ban. The board's contention that no case was maintainable was rejected.
Reacting to the judgement, Azharuddin told reporters in Delhi, "I can't predict how BCCI will react but it's totally upto them. As far as I am concerned, I am ready to work for the benefit of cricket and cricketers."
Asked if he would take any legal action against BCCI, the former captain said,"I am not going to take any legal action against any authority and I don't want to blame anybody for this also. It is about destiny and whatever had to happen has happened. I don't have any complaints."
The stylish right-hander from Hyderabad, said that he always had his conscience clear.
"My conscience was always clear as I haven't done anything wrong. I have represented my country and had played the game with utmost honesty. I never lost faith and was never a broken man. I didn't blame anybody and was ready to fight it out in the court of law," said one of India's most successful captains.
Apart from his parents, Azhar thanked former India captain Kapil Dev and BCCI president Late Raj Singh Dungarpur for their constant support during the darkest phase of his career.
"I thank Late Raj Singh Dungarpur for his constant support when he was alive. Also Kapil paaji has been very vocal in my support in all forums. So was former BCCI vice-president Kamal Morarka. I also thank all my fans who had stood by me in all these 12 years."
His career ended at 99 Tests and Azhar doesn't want to dwell on it.
"May be I was destined to play 99 Test matches and that's what the Almighty wanted. I would not like to dwell on the past and move on. I am an MP and would like to focus on the development of my constituency Moradabad."
Senior BCCI official Rajeev Shukla said,"Our legal team will analyse the judgement. Then only we will react."
However with Azhar not mulling any legal action, it is expected that the BCCI is likely to soften its stand in near future.
Azhar got a bit emotional when there was a reference of his late son Mohammed Ayazuddin who passed away in a tragic bike accident last year.
"What I lost last year is scar that will remain with me forever. Nothing can change that. It was Almighty Allah's wish but certainly myself and my elder son Abbas (Mohammed Asaduddin) are relieved today."