SC reinstates Najam Sethi as PCB Chairman

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SC) has restored Najam Sethi as the chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) while the court has suspended the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) decision to reinstate Zaka Ashraf as the head, Geo News reported on Wednesday.

The court has also ordered to restore the administrating committee of the PCB.

It may be mentioned here that the IHC had reinstated Ashraf Zaka as PCB chairman on May 17 after which the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination had challenged the IHC decision in SC on Tuesday.

On May 17, Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi of the IHC suspended the management committee appointed by the prime minister, being the Patron-in-Chief of the PCB, and reinstated Zaka Ashraf as the chairman of the cricket board.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on 10th February this year sacked Ashraf and appointed a committee chaired by Najam Sethi to oversee the cricketing matters. Asma Jehangir, former president of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), filed the petition on behalf of the Ministry under Article 185(3) of the Constitution for leave to appeal against the IHC judgment.

The petitioner made Arbab Altaf Hussain, member Scrutiny Committee PCB, and Brig (R) Sajjad Hameed, Director HR and Administration, as respondents.

Asma questioned how the single bench of IHC “illegally” assumed jurisdiction as neither the respondent No1 Arbab Altaf Hussain was a resident of Islamabad nor were the honorary services of Arbab hired or terminated in Islamabad. She said even the principal office of PCB is not in Islamabad, adding of the 25 petitions heard by IHC, none of petitioner lived in Islamabad but they were from Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhawa and Punjab.

The petitioner submitted that the impugned judgment has mixed up the notion of natural justice with the maintainability of a petition filed by an employee whose employment is regulated through non-statutory rules.

The IHC judgment has assumed that the management committee (MC) was not authorised to initiate long-term decisions as the preamble to SRO No 4-14/2008. IPC-S-11 clearly depicts the mind of the Patron in appointing MC. The MC had undertaken serious reforms in drafting constitution and submitting the same to the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination.

The petitioner contended that Chairman Zaka Ashraf with a dysfunctional Board started his vendetta against professionals associated with the PCB. This has been a regular pattern and PCB cannot be allowed to be treated as a personal fiefdom of any Board of Governors or its chairman.

The IHC judgment has created a situation that will have long-term detrimental effect on PCB if not reversed promptly and it will ruin the game of cricket, the petitioner said, adding that the judgment has not only annulled the notification dated 10-02-2014 in utter violation of the judgments of the Supreme Court, but also struck down all acts, orders passed with long-term implications.

The judgment has throughout erroneously termed the MC, as interim MC, whereas the Patron had set up the MC to clean up the PCB. “The (IHC) judgment has struck a fatal blow to PCB and cricket, which will cost PCB heavily in terms of financial loss and credibility in international cricket.” the petitioner contended.

Earlier, the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination had filed an intra-court appeal (ICA) in the IHC for restoration of Najam Sethi. The IHC informed the petitioner in writing that no division bench was available and is not likely to be available for a considerable period of time to hear the ICA as there are three judges working at the court. One of the judges is the author of the impugned judgment and another is the author of judgment delivered in writ petition 2241/2013 that had initially dismissed Zaka Ashraf from office.