The Supreme Court on Wednesday suspending the Islamabad High Court’s decision of reinstating Zaka Ashraf as chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman, has restored Najam Sethi and management committee on the post.
The three-member bench of the apex court comprising Justice Anwar Zahir Jamali, Justice Aijaz Afzal Khan and Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman heard the case against Ashraf’s reinstatement on a plea filed by the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC).
During the hearing, Asma Jahangir on behalf of the ministry said that the IHC’s intrusion in matters of policy may lead to undermining the sport of cricket.
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.
Asma was of the view that Zaka Ashraf is a person having political shadow, who had spent millions of rupees over his relatives as well as on his family during the foreign tours but Najam has never been protected the nepotism.
Asma 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.
She said that 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.
Asma Jahangeer 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, she 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.
She further argued that 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.” She contended.
After hearing the initial argument the court annulled the IHC’s decision given by Justice Nurul Haq Qureshi that ordered the reinstatement of Ashraf and issued notices to the parties involved for May 27 and adjourned the hearing of the case.
The petition had pleaded before the SC to set aside the high court order and by restoring Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) 4-14/2008-IPC-S-11 former PCB boss Najam Sethi be restored along with the Interim Management Committee (IMC) set up on Feb 10 for 90 days.
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.
ZAka Ashraf, however, expressed his displeasure over the apex court’s ruling and said that the court had not issued a decision but rather a stay order. He further said that he respected the court’s orders, adding that facts were not presented before the court during judicial procedures. Ashraf moreover said he would personally state the facts before the court.