ISLAMABAD - A Division Bench (DB) of Islamabad High Court (IHC) Wednesday restored Zaka Ashraf as chairman Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). The DB comprising Justice Riaz Ahmad Khan and Justice Noor-ul-Haq N Qureshi announced the verdict on the Intra Court Appeal (ICA) of Zaka who moved the court against the decision of a single bench of IHC against his removal from the office.
In its decision, the court has validated all the decisions taken by Interim Management Committee (IMC) regarding the affairs of the PCB. However, the DB has declared that the committee would stand dissolved after this judgment of the court. The verdict stated that the removal of Zaka from the office of PCB chairman PCB was against the natural justice and he was removed without hearing him. The division bench has also accepted intra court appeals moved by the Ministry of Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) and Pakistan Cricket Board with some reservations.
Earlier, the DB had reserved its verdict in the five Intra Court Appeals (ICAs) filed by Federal Ministry of Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC), Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), former chairman PCB Zaka Ashraf, Lahore Cricket Club, PCB board of Governors and Major (R) Ahmad Nadeem Suddle after hearing the arguments of all the parties.
Asma Jehangir advocate representing Ministry of IPC informed the court that government had given directions to her that it would fully consider the IHC judgment in this matter. The case took an interesting turn when Asma was pressing for the validity of IPC SRO dated October 14, 2013 and the counsel for the former chairman PCB Zaka Ashraf, Afnan Karim Kundi told the court that the IPC has only attached the lower part of SRO before the court without mentioning its upper portion where it is said that the IHC judgment will be implemented. In response, Asma said that it could be termed as sluggishness of the ministry officials but not malafide. "I had received only draft of the SRO notification and not the SRO," she added.
She prayed to the court to set aside the judgment of the IHC single bench dated July 04. She argued that the single judge in the bench assumed jurisdiction under article 184 (3) and also tried to legislate that is not a function of the court. "The single judge in his decision has traveled far beyond the scope," she also said.
Asma continued that the SRO NO 100 (1)/2013 of federal government dated October 14 has repealed the sections 28, 29, 30 and 31 with a substitution of section 41. The section 41 reads: "The patron (Prime Minister), in the presence of sufficient evidence and being satisfied that grave financial irregularities exist in the board, may direct the federal government to supersede the board and to constitute an interim management committee (IMC) comprising five members who may elect one of them to be the Chairman, and to specify the functions of the committee, consistent with sections 3 & 4 of the ordinance. Provided that such supersession shall not remain in force for a period of more than ninety days unless extended by the patron for reasons to be recorded in writing". The counsel for the IPC informed the court that if division bench suspends the July 04 judgment, this SRO will remain in field. The counsel for PCB Tafazzal Haider Rizvi said that the government's patronage into the PCB affairs is necessary as the organisation of cricket tournaments required administration's help.
Ashraf was elected chairman in May, under a new constitution, in which the role of the patron of the board - at that point the president of Pakistan - had been changed. Where before the patron simply appointed a chairman for however long a term he chose, under the new constitution, the patron would recommend two candidates for the post, who would then be interviewed by a nomination committee. The nomination would then have to be approved by a restructured board of governors.
In Ashraf's case, the problem with election was at two levels. One, it was done secretively and in a hurry, ahead of the country's general elections in which the party Ashraf derived his power from - the Pakistan People's Party - was eventually voted out. Two, the composition of the board of governors was questionable, with no representation on it of the entire province of Punjab, Pakistan's most populous and arguably it’s most dominant in terms of cricket players.