The Lahore High Court appears to have cleared the last hurdle in the way of the PCB’s long-pending domestic reforms, after dismissing a petition to block changes in the board’s new constitution. It allows the PCB to implement its new constitution in full, as well as to reform the governing board and launch its restructured domestic set-up starting September 14.
Following an interim judgement by the court on August 23, the new constitution stood suspended for five days. The writ petition’s main complaint was against the PCB election commissioner and deputy election commissioner’s order against district-level elections and the scrutiny of cricket clubs. Another petition about the termination of four coaches by the PCB added to the muddle, and a third application – this one against a new constitution – appeared to further complicate the intention behind the petitioner’s filings.
The court observed that if the petitioner had any grievances regarding the implementation of any order, they should approach the PCB to remedy it, and in case the PCB didn’t comply, the court could be approached again.
“Nearly 20 petitions have been dismissed,” Taffazul Rizvi, the PCB’s legal advisor, told ESPNcricinfo. “The writs were frivolous and not even worth the paper they were written on. The petitions were bereft of any legal ground and they were filed with the connivance of terminated PCB employees and district presidents.
“The PCB will not be held hostage by anybody and the new constitution will be implemented with full effect. Any misguided attack on the new constitution will be defended with full legal justification.”
The case assumed significance because it almost took the PCB to a similar situation as in 2013, when Zaka Ashraf, the then chairman, was dismissed by Islamabad High Court. The court later not only dismissed him but tweaked the constitution on its own. After going back and forth several times, the upshot of that power tussle was Najam Sethi ending up as the chairman of the PCB, a position he continued to hold till last year.
The new PCB constitution, notified on August 19 by the Pakistan government, altered the entire structure of the board, with the overhaul of the domestic structure the other major update. This is the fifth time since 1995 and the fourth in the last 12 years that the PCB constitution has seen amendments. The new legislation curtailed the almost dictatorial powers the chairman of the PCB has, passing most of them on to the newly appointed managing director to share power more effectively and reduce conflicts of interest.
The changes were initiated by the board’s chairman Ehsan Mani. Until now, chairmen had the authority to act as executives of the board who tried to implement policy that they had proposed themselves. It also toned down the powers of its own patron-in-chief, the country’s prime minister, who now has no power to dissolve the board or remove the chairman.
“The PCB welcomes the judgement of the Honourable Lahore High Court Judge Mr Justice Shahid Waheed, who dismissed the application to suspend the PCB Constitution 2019,” Mani said.
“It was obvious to all the knowledgeable and passionate cricket fans and followers that the intentions of the petitioners were malafide and were aimed at disrupting Pakistan cricket activities and bringing embarrassment to the PCB and the country.
“The 2019-20 season will be a season of celebration for Pakistan’s cricket fans as we host Sri Lanka for three ODIs and as many T20Is from 27 September to 9 October. Furthermore, high-powered delegations from Cricket Australia and the England and Wales Cricket Board will be visiting in September and October respectively as part of our preparations for their future tours to Pakistan.”