Setting aside the Islamabad High Court’s decision of restoring Zaka Ashraf as Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Monday directed the prime minister to appoint the board’s election commissioner within seven days.
Therefore, the incumbent Najam Sethi will continue his duties for one more week, after which the election commissioner and the acting chairman will replace him. PCB patron Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is expected to announce the caretaker chairman within a week.
Another major development in the musical chairs between Sethi and Ashraf came on Monday when the former announced during the hearing that he would not participate in the elections as he is already an appointed member of the PCB’s board of governors.
In a petition, Sethi had asked the court to set aside the IHC judgement and restore him as PCB chairman by removing Ashraf. But the bench converted Sethi’s petition against the restoration of Zaka Ashraf into an appeal and after allowing it, disposed of the IHC’s judgment issued on May 17, 2014.
It observed that in light of the new PCB constitution, which was enforced on July 10 this year, the chief patron (the prime minister) is required to appoint an acting chairman and a chief election commissioner within one week to hold free and fair elections in 30 days after the appointment of the CEC. The court disposed of the appeal with the above-mentioned directions.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Sethi reiterated his stance of not contesting the PCB elections. “Throughout my tenure, I had stated that I would not stay in power unnecessarily. Now the time is ripe to vacate the chair since I have already taken the needful measures to put Pakistan cricket back on the right path.”
He added, “I will continue to play a part in the management through a powerful board of governors which will ensure transparency in cricketing affairs and will also act as a watchdog on the new chairman”. He also clarified that the new chairman will replace him in the International Cricket Council (ICC)’s executive committee.
Setting aside the IHC order, the petitions of the 24 sacked employees of the cricket board also stood incompetent as the PCB did not have any statutory rules and the employees were appointed on contract.
Appearing before the court, counsels for the employees argued that the PCB rules were statutory as they were framed under the 1962 Ordinance under which the cricket board was formed.
Some of these petitioners were employees of the PCB, while others were members of the board’s interim committees functioning in divisions and regions.
Counsel for the PCB and the ministry of inter provincial coordination, Asma Jahangir, submitted in court that if the bench wants the government to appoint a chairman of its own choice, then it is impossible. At this, Justice Saqib Nisar remarked that the court has nothing to do with the appointment of the PCB chairman but the court is concerned with whether the prime minister used unbridled powers to do so.
Jahangir argued that the chairman’s appointment is the government’s administrative matter and the court cannot intervene in the same.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2014.