ISLAMABAD: While winning the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 against their arch-rivals India turned out to be a cash bonanza for the Pakistan cricket team, there is a legal hurdle in the way of the players to become ‘instant millionaires’ as a lawyer has challenged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s announcement of cash rewards for the winning squad.
Justice Aamer Farooq of Islamabad High Court (IHC) directed on Monday Deputy Attorney General Raja Khalid Mehmood to apprise the court about the provisions of law enabling the prime minister to announce cash reward for the cricket team following their historic win in the final match of the tournament.
The DAG was directed to inform the court on July 4 under what law and to what extent the premier could give cash reward to the team and pronounce grants following a tragedy or disaster.
The directions came in response to a petition filed by Advocate Tariq Asad, challenging the decision whereby the premier had sanctioned to award Rs215 million to the winning squad.
As per the notification of June 21, the petitioner said, 15 players of the cricket team will receive Rs10 million each while 13 members of the team management will ‘pocket’ Rs5 million each, who already receive monthly salary as regular employees.
In the petition, Asad maintained that the team won the trophy for which they all deserve tribute but distribution of public funds in an extravagant manner is neither in the public interest nor in accordance with the law.
He said players and squad members get sufficient match money, funds from several other resources, salaries and benefits for playing first class cricket for different departments, and have contracts with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), making their normal income “over and above a 22-grade officer”.
Referring to the recent oil tanker explosion in Ahmedpur East, Bahawalpur, where over 200 people lost their lives, Asad said it would not be out of place to mention that “there is no burn section in any nearby hospital”.
He lamented that the demand of the people to establish burn wards in local hospitals was turned down by the prime minister “with remarks that it is very expensive”, adding that people need health and education facilities instead of wasting rewards in an extravagant way.
“Such a huge amount may be utilised for public welfare,” he upheld, adding if the money has to be spent on sports/cricket then the best way is to give these funds to the 16 regions at the grass-root level where players cannot even buy essential cricket accessories to play the game.
Requesting the court to set aside the June 21 order, the petitioner urged that the funds may be utilised to provide basic amenities of life to the common people instead of extravagance.
The court will take up the case on July 4.