PCB's anti-corruption code tweak won't apply to Sharjeel case

Sharjeel Khan appears at the offices of the Federal Investigation Authority Associated Press

The PCB's tweaking of its anti-corruption code will not apply to Sharjeel Khan's case. The board made the clarification a day after Sharjeel and his lawyer accused them of modifying the code while a tribunal was sitting over the spot-fixing case in which he was implicated.

A statement issued by the PCB said the amendment "will affect future cases and does not apply to Sharjeel Khan".

On Tuesday, Sharjeel's lawyer Shaighan Ejaz said the PCB had amended a clause in the code on July 18, 2017 and stipulated that it retrospectively apply to Sharjeel's case. They accused the PCB of acting in bad faith. The PCB's lawyer, Taffazul Rizvi, had, in response, stressed that it was a routine change. "Such amendments are never person-specific, and are applicable to all cricketers," he said.

The change to the clause has to do with the process of appealing the tribunal's decision. The old clause allowed a player to appeal to an independent adjudicator or go to the Court of Arbitration [Sports], based in Lausanne, Switzerland.

With the tweak, a player can go to the CAS only after he has appealed to an independent adjudicator, which Sharjeel has in his case. After the appeal, the player has 21 days to go to the CAS.

The change, according to one official, was the result of a "grammatical error" in the original code, which mirrors, in large part, the ICC's anti-corruption code.

"The true state of affairs is that under both versions of the PCB Code (old and new) an appeal against the order of the Anti-Corruption Tribunal lies with the Independent Adjudicator," the PCB's statement said.

"Article 7.5.4 provides that the decision of the independent adjudicator on the appeal shall be final and binding on all parties. The amendment made by PCB in fact provides parties with an additional opportunity to appeal i.e. before Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS). Sporting bodies including cricket regard CAS as the final court of appeal."

The PCB also pointed out that nothing was stopping Sharjeel from going to Pakistan's judiciary, referring to Article 11.5 of the code: "…the Courts of Pakistan shall have exclusive jurisdiction to issue relief….and/or to hear and determine challenges to any decision issued by the Anti-Corruption Tribunal and/or CAS."

Theoretically that means Sharjeel could file a writ petition in Pakistan's courts. But if it does go to court, the PCB is likely to argue that Sharjeel should first approach the CAS - as per their code. Sharjeel's lawyer has already said that going to the CAS was not a realistic option for the batsman owing to the expense he would need to undertake.

Pakistani courts have been involved in a number PCB cases over the years, and aren't unknown to overturning board decisions on, among other things, player bans and punishments.