The Sri Lanka cricket board on Wednesday decided to take legal action against sports minister Roshan Ranasinghe. SLC president, vice president and treasurer jointly filed a defamation lawsuit in the District Court of Colombo, seeking damages amounting to 2.4 Billion rupees, the board said in a statement, adding that the step has been taken to “protect its reputation and integrity.”
“In response to the persistent and damaging defamatory statements made by the Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Roshan Ranasinghe, Sri Lanka Cricket has taken a decisive step to protect its reputation and integrity.
“The continuous dissemination of false and harmful statements by the Minister of Sports has caused substantial harm to the image of Sri Lanka Cricket, both domestically and internationally. The Sri Lanka Cricket, represented by its top leadership, is committed to upholding transparency, accountability, and fair play in all its endeavors,” SL said.
Ranasinghe had initially sacked the entire board members of SLC following Sri Lanka’s disappointing World Cup campaign. He had alleged misconduct, and lack of transparency and questioned the intentions of the board members and their decision-making. The court later reinstated the board members. The fiasco meanwhile led to SLC getting a suspension from ICC.
SLC said the allegations were baseless.
“The legal action aims to rectify the unwarranted damage inflicted on Sri Lanka Cricket’s standing in the sporting community. The Executive Committee of Sri Lanka Cricket believes that this step is necessary to safeguard the reputation of the organization and its members.
Sri Lanka Cricket remains focused on promoting the spirit of the game, fostering a positive environment for players, officials, and fans alike. The legal proceedings initiated against the Minister of Sports underscore the organization’s dedication to upholding its principles and protecting its stakeholders from baseless allegations,” the statement added.
The ICC said on Friday that Sri Lanka Cricket was “in serious breach of its obligations as a member”, highlighting “the requirement to manage its affairs autonomously and to ensure that there is no government interference”.
The suspension came a day after Sri Lanka’s parliament asked the board to resign over allegations by Ranasinghe that it had syphoned off millions of dollars.
The ICC board will decide the suspension conditions later, it said in a brief statement.
It was not immediately clear if the indefinite suspension would affect Sri Lanka hosting the Under 19 World Cup in January.
The local board said Sri Lanka stands to lose a $2.4 million grant from the ICC to develop local venues if the 16-nation Under-19 tournament was scuttled due to the suspension.
The crisis involving the cricket board — the richest sporting organisation in the bankrupt island country — came to a head after Sri Lanka’s humiliating World Cup defeat by India last week.
Parliament unanimously asked Sri Lanka Cricket’s elected board members to resign on Thursday, accusing them of unprecedented corruption.
The board is now locked in litigation after it was sacked by the sports minister on Monday, only to be restored the following day by the Court of Appeal pending a hearing in two weeks.
The ICC has rules against political interference and has suspended Sri Lanka before.