''The BCCI has committed a great injustice towards Azhar by imposing a life ban without any solid evidence,'' Lele said and blamed the then Board president A C Muthiah and K M Ram Prasad, members of the 3-member Disciplinary Committee, for taking the 'wrong' decision.
Lele, who was BCCI secretary when the Board announced its decision on Dec 5, 2000 following probes by CBI and the Madhavan committee, said no investigating body had ever found any concrete evidence against Azhar in match-fixing allegation.
''In its report, CBI only suspected Azhar to be involved in the scandal for his frequent telephonic talks with a bookie. However, this can't prove that he had fixed matches,'' he claimed.
Taking exception to the committee's decision to impose life ban on Azhar and Ajay Sharma, and a five-year ban on Ajay Jadeja, Manoj Prabhakar and the then team physio Ali Irani, Lele said the decision against Azhar was too harsh, and all those reportedly found guilty of their alleged close contacts and nexus with bookies/punters could have been let off with imposition of fine.
Talking to UNI here, Lele said since Azhar had already served six years ban without any proof, now the BCCI must withdraw the ban on him despite the ICC's reservation on the issue.
Lele also welcomed the BCCI's recent stand on Azhar and its decision to invite him to the new Board building inauguration function in Mumbai.
On ICC CEO Malcolm Speed's recent statement on Azhar issue, the former BCCI secretary charged the International cricket governing body with maintaining a double standard in the matter of betting and match-fixing.