ISLAMABAD - A Division Bench (DB) of Islamabad High Court (IHC) Tuesday reserved its verdict in the five Intra Court Appeals (ICAs) filed by Federal Ministry of Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC), Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), ex-PCB chief Zaka Ashraf, Lahore Cricket Club, PCB board of Governors and Major (r) Ahmad Nadeem Suddle.

The DB comprising Justice Riaz Ahmad Khan and Justice Noorul Haq N Qureshi reserved the decision after hearing the arguments of all the parties. Asma Jehangir advocate representing Ministry of IPC informed the court that government had given directions to her that it would fully consider the IHC judgment in this matter.

The case took an interesting turn when Asma Jehangir was pressing for the validity of IPC SRO dated October 14, 2013 and the counsel for the former PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf, Afnan Karim Kundi told the court that the IPC had only attached the lower part of SRO before the court without mentioning its upper portion where it was said that the IHC judgment would be implemented.  In response, Asma Jehangir said that it could be termed as sluggishness of the ministry officials but not malafide. "I had received only draft of the SRO notification and not the SRO," she added.

She prayed to the court to set aside the judgment of the IHC single bench dated July 4. She argued that the single judge in the bench assumed jurisdiction under article 184 (3) and also tried to legislate that was not a function of the court. "The single judge in his decision has traveled far beyond the scope," she said.

Asma continued that the SRO NO 100 (1)/2013 of federal government dated October 14 has repealed the sections 28, 29, 30 and 31 with a substitution of section 41. The section 41 reads, "The patron (Prime Minister), in the presence of sufficient evidence and being satisfied that grave financial irregularities exist in the board, may direct the federal government to supercede the board and to constitute an interim management committee (IMC) comprising of five members who may elect one of them to be the chairman, and to specify the functions of the committee, consistent with sections 3 & 4 of the ordinance. Provided that such supersession shall not remain in force for a period of more than 90 days unless extended by the patron for reasons to be recorded in writing".  The counsel for IPC informed the court that if division bench suspended the July 4 judgment, this SRO would remain in field.

During the last hearing, the counsel for Major (r) Ahmad Nadeem Suddle, Mian Abdur Rauf had raised objections over the legality of IPC's ICA while saying that a section officer of the ministry was not authorized to sign for engagement of a private counsel.  Counter arguing in this matter, Asma contended that the joint secretary of the IPC ministry had approved for the hiring of her services in this matter that was according to the law.

The counsel for PCB Tafazzal Haider Rizvi also refuted Rauf's argument regarding maintainability and said the PCB ICA was properly signed by the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the PCB.  He argued that PCB is a body corporate and not an attached department of the ministry.

Advocate Rizvi said that the government's patronage into the PCB affairs was necessary as the organisation of cricket tournaments required administration's help. He said some petitioners were trying to harass the IMC member by way of filing numerous petitions. Regarding Najam Sethi, the PCB's counsel said that he was the largest tax payer journalist of Pakistan. Last year, he and his wife paid Rs 30 million tax, he added. Advocate Rauf said the October 29 order of the IHC single bench was still in field under which the PCB chief and IMC were suspended. Talking to the journalists after hearing, Asma said they had forwarded the arguments and hoped that the court would decide these ICAs on merit.

“In the meantime, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui deferred the hearing in the matter of two separate writ petitions against PCB chief Najam Sethi, one for initiating contempt of court proceedings against Sethi for violating the October 29 order of the IHC single bench that had suspended the PCB interim management committee (IMC) and its acting chairman Sethi restraining them to perform functions.”

The same petitioner in his second petition has contended before the IHC that Sethi in connivance with other members of the board had awarded media broadcasting rights to Ten Sports Taj and a private sports channel for the cricket series against South Africa and Sri Lanka keeping the national television PTV sports out of bidding contest and the court may direct NAB to initiate inquiry into the matter.

Ahmed Nawaz Khan filed both the petitions. Justice Siddiqui adjourned in these two while keeping these in pending and would hear after decisions of the ICAs before the above said division bench.