Islamabad High Court reinstates Sethi, IMC temporarily
Najam Sethi will continue as the chairman of the PCB's interim management committee (IMC) until the conclusion of the ongoing court appeal, the Islamabad High Court has ruled. On Monday, a two-judge appellate bench heard the arguments of the PCB and the government with regards to the judgment passed by Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, who had called for fresh elections to appoint a PCB chairman.
The next hearing is scheduled for November 7, when former PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf and the petitioner will present their counter arguments.
"The PCB and the government understand that the five-member IMC has been reinstated," the board's lawyer Taffazul Rizvi told ESPNcricinfo after the hearing. "Our plea was to maintain the status quo with IMC at the helm of affairs at the PCB while the hearing goes on."
The confusion over the status of Sethi and the IMC began on October 28, when Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui suspended Sethi at 9am for not complying with an earlier legal order issued by Justice Siddiqui to elect a permanent chairman for the PCB by October 18. However at 12.30pm on the same day, the board's lawyers argued successfully to a different two-judge bench at the same court on the same case to maintain the status quo - that is, Sethi and the IMC - at least temporarily. However, the written order of this judgment, released on October 31, refers to no such conclusion, leaving those board officials who received it, baffled.
Both judges admitted to an "inadvertent" typing mistake and clarified that the bench meant to ask the PCB to function until the appeal is decided. The PCB had remained without a chairman and administrative body for six days.
Monday's hearing began with Ministry of Inter Provincial Coordination lawyer Asma Jahangir objecting to Siddiqui's July order, which undermined cricket administration in the country as two chairmen were suspended in five months.
"PCB is the only sports body in the country that is generating its own funds and in last ten years has paid Rs 350m of tax," she said before Justice Riaz Ahmad Khan and Justice Noor-ul-Haq Qureshi. "But for the last many months, its functioning has been badly affected."
The hearing went on for four hours during which Rizvi explained to the court that the ongoing legal crisis was hurting the PCB's ability to attract sponsors and broadcasters.
Siddiqui had also named a retired Supreme Court judge to conduct the PCB elections and set Rs. 2.5 million rupees as a fee for the supervision of the election. The appeal bench ordered a stay against the election and the funds allocated for it.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here