ISLAMABAD: Undoing the government’s efforts to clean up the mess surrounding the chairmanship of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), the Supreme Court suspended on Friday a July 10 notification, which replaced Najam Sethi with a former judge of the apex court.

A two-judge bench consisting of Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali and Justice Saqib Nisar suspended Thursday’s the notification whereby the prime minister – in his capacity as patron-in-chief of the PCB – had appointed former Justice Syed Jamshed Ali Shah as the interim chairman and election commissioner for the board. Justice Shah was to administer the election of a new PCB chairman from amongst members of the PCB’s new board of governors (BoG) within 30 days.

Thursday’s notification also brought into force the new PCB constitution, under which fresh elections for the coveted post of chairman were to be held. However, in striking down the notification, the SC also did away with the new constitution. This means that Mr Sethi is still chairman of the PCB.


Sethi still chairman, Justice Shah’s appointment cancelled


The bench was visibly dismayed by the notification issued a day earlier and asked the counsel, how the government could issue such an order while knowing that the matter of the appointment of PCB chairman was still pending in court.

“What will you do if we withdraw our suspension order,” the court observed. The bench told the government’s representatives that the court’s directives could not be superseded through an executive notification.

The Supreme Court order came on an appeal filed by the Ministry of Inter Provincial Coordination – which oversees sports activities in the country – challenging the May 17 Islamabad High Court (IHC) judgment to reinstate Zaka Ashraf as chairman in place of Mr Sethi.

On May 27, the apex court had ordered that a status quo be maintained, which allowed Sethi to continue as chairman.

On Friday, Attorney General Salman Aslam Butt requested the apex court to allow the newly-constituted BoG to continue functioning. He said that the interim Management Committee was primarily charged with drafting a new constitution, a task which had been completed.

The court, however, suggested that the controversy would end if Sethi resigned from his post voluntarily, or if both Sethi and Ashraf were put on the new BoG and allowed to contest for the position of chairman.

At this point, Sethi came to the rostrum and said that he had reluctantly accepted the office of chairman, adding that he was ready to relinquish the post but the prime minister – who he met ten days ago – wanted him to continue.

Under the new constitution, he said, the chairman could be removed by a vote of no-confidence if he did not perform well, Sethi said.

He also maintained that his removal could jeopardise millions of dollars worth of sponsorship agreements with international broadcasters if they decided to review their agreements with the PCB.

Justice Nisar wondered whether the chief executive (prime minister) had the authority to intervene when the matter was pending before the Supreme Court. “The court wants to settle the dispute for the betterment of the institution,” the judge explained.

The court then ordered its registrar to place the matter before Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk, who is expected to take it up on July 21 at the Lahore registry.

Published in Dawn, July 12th, 2014

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