ISLAMABAD: The legal tussle rocking the Pakistan Cricket Board took another dramatic twist on Tuesday as the interim chairman was suspended by a court order, only to be reinstated two hours later.
Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court suspended Najam Sethi for not obeying a legal order to elect a permanent chairman for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) by October 18.
While hearing a petition filed by former PCB member Ahmed Nawaz, the judge suspended the Interim Management Committee and issued contempt of court notices to Sethi and other members of the IMC, for not holding the PCB elections within 90 days as earlier ordered by the court.
"Sethi, by not holding elections, has disobeyed the court's order and he is suspended and all the matters relating to the board will be handled by PCB secretary," the court said.
The court had declared the secretary PCB to be the acting chairman till a commission headed by Justice (retd) Munir Sheikh conducted elections by the end of November.
It was the second time in five months that the game's chief administrator in Pakistan had been thrown out on a legal challenge.
But, just two hours later, an appeals bench at the same court granted a stay order on the ruling until November 4, following an application from the PCB legal team.
Sethi took to Twitter to welcome the order.
Isbd High Court Two Member Bench has granted STAY against Single Bench Orders. I remain Chairman PCB. Sorry to disappoint pithus/ trolls!— Najam Sethi (@najamsethi) October 29, 2013
He clarified the confusion saying two other judges had restored status quo after one judge had suspended his chairmanship earlier.
@Karachi_Post TWO judges have restored Status Quo after one judge order earlier. .— Najam Sethi (@najamsethi) October 29, 2013
Tuesday's drama was the latest round in a saga that has plunged the administration of the game, followed fanatically by millions in Pakistan, into turmoil since May.
Sethi was appointed in June after the Islamabad High Court threw out the then-chairman Zaka Ashraf over what it called the "dubious" process by which he was elected.
On October 15, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, also the patron-in-chief of PCB, directed the board's suspension and the formation of the IMC to enable PCB's day-to-day functioning, all in line with the directions of the Islamabad High Court.
On Tuesday, the court suspended Sethi following a petition from a cricket official in Punjab province complaining he had ignored a court order to hold an election for the chairmanship by October 18.
The petition of Ahmed Nawaz also stated that the PM's amendment of the PCB constitution's article 41 - in order to facilitate Sethi's appointment as chairman of the committee - was illegal.
But as described above, an appeal against the order enabled Sethi to stay on till Monday.
The legal drama began after the International Cricket Council (ICC), the world governing body, demanded measures to end political interference in the sport.
The appointment of the PCB chairman has traditionally been in the gift of the Pakistani president in his role as patron of the board, and the practice was seen as highly politicised.
To follow ICC rules, Ashraf -- who had been appointed by then-president Asif Ali Zardari -- stood successfully for election to the job, but was struck down following a legal challenge which argued that the process had been flawed.
Former fast bowling star Waqar Younis last week called for a swift end to the legal wrangling, which he said was damaging cricket in Pakistan.
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