ISLAMABAD / KARACHI: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday reinstated Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) former chairman Zaka Ashraf, nullifying his suspension by a single-judge bench of the IHC in May last year.
A two-judge bench – comprising Justice Riaz Ahmed Khan and Justice Noorul Haq N Qureshi – declared Ashraf’s suspension order null and void. Last month, the bench had reserved its judgment over an intra-court appeal against the judgment given by Justice Shaukat Siddiqui.
The bench observed that Ashraf’s suspension was outside the jurisdiction of Article 199 of the 1973 Constitution. Requirements of justice had not been met as the PCB chairman was suspended without being given a chance for hearing, the bench stated in its verdict.
In May 2013, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the IHC declared the election of Zaka Ashraf illegal after a former coach of Pakistan Army cricket team, Major (retd) Ahmad Nadeem challenged his election procedure.
Ashraf became the first elected chairman of the PCB in May 2013 under a constitution which was formed in compliance with International Cricket Council’s requirement to end government’s intervention.
However, the process of election in which Punjab and Karachi were snubbed was challenged in the IHC. Justice Siddiqui had declared Sections 28, 29, 30 and 31 of the PCB Charter illegal and observed that these sections were unconstitutional and against democratic values.
Although a detailed judgment is yet to be revealed, Ashraf’s lawyer Afnan Karim Kundi, who had filed the intra-court appeal, said that his client could immediately resume charge at the PCB.
Interestingly, PCB’s Interim Management Committee (IMC), headed by Najam Sethi, has ostensibly been superseded within hours following the ruling. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who had appointed Sethi as PCB’s chairman, is the patron of the board and had recently given a three-month extension to the IMC.
Subsequently, Sethi was appointed as interim chairman in June but the IHC barred him from taking major decisions since his appointment was not made as per the court’s guidelines. The IHC also ordered fresh elections.
But Sethi failed to hold elections and three days before the deadline, the premier dissolved the governing body on October 15 and formed the IMC. Sethi was unanimously elected as the panel’s chairman by other IMC members.
“We are still waiting for the detailed judgment,” PCB’s legal counsel Taffazul Rizvi told The Express Tribune, adding that things would become clearer after the detailed judgment which would be implemented in letter and spirit.
Relieved Ashraf vows to clean up the ‘mess’
Meanwhile, Ashraf said he always had faith in the independent judiciary. “I will take charge tomorrow or the day after,” he said. “I am thankful to the judiciary for restoring me. “My priority will be to clean the mess and the prevailing atmosphere of confusion created within the PCB in my absence.”
Ashraf, who was appointed by the Pakistan Peoples Party government, hoped the government would not interfere in the PCB’s affairs. “I never brought politics into cricket and always believed that the sport should be politics-free,” Ashraf added.
Meanwhile, an official privy to the development, said that Wednesday’s verdict of the IHC was likely to be challenged in the Supreme Court.
“The government is likely to challenge the judgment and will seek a stay,” said the official. “However, any decision will be taken after the detailed judgment.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 16th, 2014.