LAHORE - The Appellate Tribunal hearing the case of fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has suspended the controversial five-year ban on him for one month. The suspended sentence by the tribunal is meant to ensure that the bowler faces no legal problems in playing for Shahrukh Khan's franchised Kolkatta Knight Riders in the cash-rich Indian Premier League. The disciplinary committee banned Akhtar over a number of serious disciplinary offences on April 1 but Akhtar got support from political functionaries who are against the policies of President Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf since the PCB chairman has been installed in the board by him. Besides, there have been intense public criticism of the board by those who wanted to level scores with the PCB. The latest controversy in Akhtar's career started with his criticism of the PCB for not offering him a central contract at a time when he was serving a two-year probation period after he had hit fellow bowler Muhammad Asif with the bat before the Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa last September. The issue further got worsened when he accused PCB chairman Dr Nasim Ashraf of demanding commission for a contract with the IPL. Dr Ashraf later sent defamation notice of Rs 200 million to the bowler. And when he (Akhtar) did not reply to the notice, Ashraf's lawyer field a suit in civil court of Hina Muzaffar for damages of Rs 220 million. The court adjourned hearing till May 16 in the absence of Shoaib Akhtar when Dr Ashraf's lawyer was present to plead the case. The chairman of the Tribunal, Justice (Retd) Farrukh Aftab, said that they had suspended the ban for one month so that he could play in the IPL. "We have suspended the five-year ban for one month," said Aftab. Akhtar's appeal of the ban will be heard on June 4," he added. The tribunal had deferred the hearing last week till June but had upheld the ban allowing him to go and play in the IPL. But the organisers of the IPL stated that Akhtar could play in the league only when the ban was lifted. Justice Aftab said that the preventing him from appearing in the IPL (due to ban) was an extensive punishment for the bowler. "We had to suspend the ban because it was stopping him from playing in India and it would have been tantamount to additional punishment on Akhtar," Aftab said. Two other tribunal members - former Test cricketer Haseeb Ahsan and businessman Salman Taseer - did not attend Sunday's hearing. "I got the consent of Taseer on telephone, but Ahsan could not be contacted," said Aftab, who was assisted by senior advocate Khawaja Sultan. Akhtar's lawyer Abid Minto approached the tribunal after the IPL refused to take Akhtar in the team, which made the tribunal show leniency. The maverick bowler has always been in trouble and remains in headlines over an unending series of controversies. Meanwhile, the PCB has granted Shoaib a No Objection Certificate to feature in the IPL, where he will play for the Kolkata Knight Riders. Shoaib expressed relief after his clearance. "This is a reat relief for me as I am keen to play in the IPL," Shoaib said. "But this is just one battle won and we still have to win the final case." The Knight Riders franchise, which signed him for US$425,000 in the player auctions, would welcome his arrival and hope for a turnaround in their fortunes. The team has suffered four consecutive losses after winning their first two games. Shoaib returns to one of his memorable hunting grounds, the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, where the team has five remaining home games. His was a revelation in his first Test at the venue some nine years back, picking up eight wickets in a match-winning effort. Our Monitoring Desk adds: Lalit Modi, chairman and commissioner of the IPL, confirmed that Shoaib will play the tournament. "We look forward to Shoaib playing for us," Modi said. "I am going to call him immediately and invite him to come to Kolkata." "Our condition (to allow him play in IPL) was that the ban must be lifted or suspended. In that effect, Shoaib is now allowed to play in the IPL. We've spoken to him and he should be coming to India in the next two days," Modi told NDTV. The IPL chief said he was in touch with PCB Chairman Nasim Ashraf, who confirmed that the five-year ban on Shoaib had been suspended by the three-member tribunal. Modi said with the tribunal clearing the deck for Shoaib's participation for the remainder of the IPL, the speedster was naturally happy. "Shoaib was very happy and he is looking forward to it. He has been calling me on a daily basis." Shoaib joining the Kolkata Knight Riders squad would also add sheen to the tournament, Modi said. "It's a great moment for us because he is a great asset for IPL. He has got a huge fan base in India and the Knight Riders are extremely happy." "I spoke to (Knight Riders owner) Shah Rukh (Khan), he is very happy. He wanted Shoaib to come for one day at least. We are happy that Shoaib can now play for him," Modi said. Modi said the pacer could play the next match for the Kolkata outfit, even though it was up to the team management to take a final call on the issue.