Senior advocate K Ramakanth Reddy took up Mohammad Azharuddin’s life-ban case only because his ailing, bed-ridden mother had ‘ordered’ him to do so.
And when, after five months, Reddy called her up from the Andhra High Court on Thursday to tell her that Azhar has won the battle, she woke up excitedly from sleep to watch the good news on the large TV screen in her room.
“Azhar had my mother’s blessings,” Reddy, an ex-classmate of the former India captain, told Mail Today. The Court had declared the life ban, imposed on him by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), illegal.
BCCI had banned Azhar, now a member of Parliament, in December 2000 – along with three other Indian cricketers for different periods – for his alleged role in match-fixing. All the players denied the allegations while questions were raised about the shoddy manner in which the Board, under pressure from the then government, had conducted an internal inquiry.
Reddy, who was a classmate of Azhar at All Saints School and was also with him at the Nizam College in Hyderabad, had initially declined Azhar’s request to fight his case he had filed in the Andhra High Court in April 2003, after it was rejected by the City Civil Court of Hyderabad.
“Suddenly, one day he called up and said ‘aapko mera case larna hai’. I said where you were all these years,” he reminisced.
“My mother was operated for cancer five years ago and she had often not been keeping well. So, I had been taking only important government matter to be with her. Even while preparing for those, I’d sit by my mother in her room.”
When Azhar approached him, Reddy told him to let the advocate who was handling his case continue because of his mother’s illness, though he promised assistance. Reddy is closely attached to his mother, and travels all the way from Hyderabad to Dharamsala every third week to bring herbal medicines from a personal physician of the Dalai Lama.
“But when Azhar insisted, my mother asked me to take it up. She said he had been suffering silently and that I could study his case and still be with her,” said Reddy.
“And when Azhar won the case, my first call was to her. She was taking a nap but immediately sat up excitedly to watch the news on the large TV in her room. Normally, she needs careful support when has to get up from the bed. Azhar had my mother’s blessings.”
Reddy disclosed that he had told Azhar in advance that his taking up the case was no guarantee of success.
“But I gave the guarantee that I would ensure that the case finishes, by fighting hard. This cannot go on like this, I had said.”
Giving a peep into how he prepared for the case – City Civil Court Appeal 403 of 2003 – Reddy disclosed that he had to sit for long hours, along with his stenographer, to prepare the counter to BCCI’s charges of match-fixing against Azhar.
“Since it was a high profile case, we had to prepare proper statements, keeping in view facts and law as it was a civil case. I went through some Indian and American Supreme Court reports,” he said.
“Nothing [BCCI case] was in order. It was a farce; it was a fraud. But the BCCI lawyer said that no case could be filed against the Board. My argument was that the Supreme Court only says that a writ petition is not maintainable but a suit is. Azhar had filed the suit in 2001. The BCCI ban order was not according to law,” he said.
“Several judges changed in this case. But any bench would have delivered the same order because they all go by the law. It was delayed because of lawyers. It was Azhar’s case, so media covered it. But even if an ordinary person was involved in a personal rights case, the judges would immediately decide a case.”
Reddy vouched that Azhar has not changed one bit since his school days. “He won’t change even if you hit on his head with a stone,” he quipped. “I remember only his simplicity; that will never change.”
Azhar and Reddy were not extremely close friends in school. But while at Nizam College, Reddy, as part of the “gang” including present Andhra Pradesh chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, would go to watch Azhar play in matches. Daily Mail