ISLAMABAD - Admitting petition of Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) the Supreme Court on Wednesday reinstated Najam Sethi as chairman Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). The apex court giving leave grant against the judgment of Islamabad High Court also issued notices to the respondents for May 27.
IHC judge Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi, on 17th May, had suspended the management committee (MC), appointed by the Prime Minister being the Patron-in-Chief of PCB, and reinstated Zaka Ashraf as chairman of the cricket board. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on 10th February this year had sacked Ashraf and appointed a committee chaired by Najam Sethi to oversee cricketing matters. A three-judge bench headed by Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali also comprised Justice Ejaz Afzal and Justice Athar Saeed was hearing the IPC petition against the IHC judgment.
Asma Jehangir, representing IPC argued that a single bench of the IHC had no jurisdiction to hear the petitions against Sethi. "The high court exceeded to its jurisdiction and heard the petitions and reinstated Zaka as PCB chairman in violation of law. It is an absolute fixture judgment," she added. The former President of Supreme Court Bar Association said it was the job of the executive to appoint PCB chief, but the High Court interfered in it.
Asma said that cricket board was restored not according to law, as it declared all the decisions of the management committee ultra vires. She said Zaka Ashraf after resuming the charge fired the PCB employees. The IHC decision was based on mala fide. She said Zaka Ashraf was a politicised chairman therefore he made the management committee dysfunctional, which was illegal act.
Asma said she would provide the details of Zaka’s domestic and international tours as chairman of the PCB on which millions of rupees were spent, adding he favoured to his family and dear ones, while her client did not appoint any of his relative or the family member.
She remarked as to whether the heaven had fallen that so many petitions were filed in the Islamabad High Court, while none of the 25 petitioners resided in Islamabad but all of them were from Sindh, Khyber Pukhtoonkhawa and Punjab. She complained that the IHC without hearing them passed the verdict. The court after hearing preliminary arguments of the petitioner granted leave against the IHC decision and issued notices to two respondents and 11 performa respondents for May 27.
In February the government -- Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is PCB patron -- installed an 11-member committee headed by Sethi to run the board temporarily. The aim was for the committee to draw up changes to the PCB constitution to make it more democratic and hold elections for the post of chairman -- and thereby bring an end to the battles in the courts.
This plan was thrown into disarray by Saturday's ruling but Wednesday's Supreme Court order means all the decisions taken by Sethi are now valid. Sethi, a veteran journalist who also served as caretaker chief minister of Punjab before last year's general election, insisted had no desire to run the PCB long-term. "I have no interest to keep this post for a long time," he said. "We have drafted a democratic constitution of the PCB which, as soon as endorsed by the government, will allow us to hold elections of the PCB."
Sethi has said he wants to hold elections for the board and chairman by June 9. The chairmanship has been a topic of controversy ever since the cricket board's inception in 1948. The ruling political party of the day in the cricket-crazy country generally gives the post to one of its supporters.
Sethi said the apex court order had given clear message to those who wanted to make the seat of PCB chairman as musical chair. He said that it was the right of the executive to appoint the cricket board chairman. Sethi said that Prime Minister had not removed Zaka but it was the decision of the IHC, adding after that verdict he was appointed as the PCB chief.
He dispelled the impression of 35 punctures (rigging in general election in Punjab), saying if anyone has evidence then bring it before the public. The PCB chairman infuriated with a question that he had Rs200 million property abroad. He asked the reporter, who put that question, that he would take him to court as without evidence he said it.