The Board of Control for Cricket in India on Wednesday accused the International Cricket Council of adopting double standards vis-a-vis players named in the match-fixing scandal of 2000.
Reacting to ICC Chief Executive Malcolm Speed's comments on the decision to invite life-banned former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin for a felicitation function of Indian captains, BCCI Chief Administrative Officer Ratnakar Shetty said Speed's remarks are "highly disappointing, if not outrageous".
Speed had said it would be a grave mistake to "talk of Azhar's case and that of others in the same breath".
"It is no secret that the ICC and some Boards have gone out of their way to help cricketers who have been as much guilty as Azhar is made out to be but did not show the same consideration for the former Indian captain just because the Indian Board in its exuberance tried to be holier than thou under extraneous pressures," Shetty said in a strongly-worded statement.
"For Mr Speed to say that it is proved that Azhar had fixed matches is an authoritative and loaded statement coming from the ICC Chief Executive, and he should refrain from taking such high moral stance."
Shetty said the BCCI has realised that it was perhaps too harsh on its players, including Azhar, considering the way other boards went about protecting those guilty in the episode.
"His (Speed's) assertion that Shane Warne and Herschelle Gibbs had already been fined and suspended by their respective cricket Boards and that their cases cannot be compared with that of Mohammed Azharuddin who had been banned for life by the Indian Board, sounds bizarre," wrote Shetty.
"The general opinion is that Azhar had undergone enough punishment and that he should be allowed to lead his life like cricketers who had faced similar charge in other countries but are going about as if they had done no wrong.
"Yes, Azhar should not be compared with those who got away with murder, people who continued to play after serving a token punishment even after they had admitted that they had taken cash to under perform and those who unabashedly said they accepted money from bookies.
"One is being persecuted and condemned for life while others strut about as paragons of virtues," Shetty added.
Ridiculing the ICC's so-called zero tolerance policy towards corruption, Shetty said Azhar has denied doing any wrong and is still fighting his case in court.
He said one can understand not letting the stylish batsman play cricket, but "treating him as a pariah", even after he has served the ban for more than five years is probably too harsh.
"What if the court exonerates him tomorrow? Will the ICC and the Indian Board be in a position to compensate for everything he has lost?" Shetty asked, adding that Speed's reaction smacked of ICC's pettiness.
Shetty signed off by stating that Speed and other ICC officials must refrain from making provocative statements which will only vitiate the congenial atmosphere in which the Champions Trophy is being organised.