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Supreme Court reinstates Sethi as Pakistan cricket crisis deepens

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan on Friday reinstated Najam Sethi once again as the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) after the apex court declared the notification issued by the federal government, which removed Sethi from his post, null and void, in a fresh twist to a long-running administrative crisis. Now, the SC will hear the case further on July 21, 2014. The SC also set aside the appointment of former judge Syed Jamshed Ali, who was given the task to conduct the fresh elections to appoint a new chief of the PCB, as the acting chairman of the board for 30 days. According to a statement issued by the court, the new constitution drafted under Sethi was also illegal since his appointment was being challenged in court. The court also declared the process to hold fresh elections as invalid.
A series of court cases and government decrees have seen the PCB chairmanship change hands between Sethi and Zaka Ashraf five times since May last year. Ashraf, who first took the job in October 2011, was suspended by Islamabad High Court (IHC) in May last year after he tried to extend his tenure by getting himself elected in a process termed ‘dubious’ and ‘polluted’ by the IHC. Since then Ashraf was restored twice by an appeal bench of the IHC – in January and May this year. His second restoration was challenged by Sethi in the SC, which on May 21 reinstated Sethi. The SC was unhappy about Prime Minister Sharif’s decision to include Sethi in a 10-member interim Board of Governors, widely seen as an attempt by the federal government to get him elected in the next 30 days.
A two-member bench, comprising Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali and Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, heard the case regarding the restoration of Zaka Ashraf as PCB head and said that the government's a notification was akin to challenging the court’s authority. However, during the SC hearing on Thursday, the judges expressed concern over the presence of Sethi on the interim Board of Governors and had asked the federal government to ‘reconsider’ the nomination. On Friday, the government did not reconsider his nomination and hence the court decided to revert to the status quo and reinstate Sethi.
Speaking to the media after the court's order, Sethi said: “I informed the honourable court that I have no desire to hold onto the post but would like to complete the tasks handed to me. The court heard my side and has allowed me to continue in my role until the matter in finally settled,” he said. The latest twist adds to an at times baffling saga in Pakistan’s cricket administration, which critics say have made it a laughing stock. The PCB chief was traditionally appointed by the ruling party of the day, a practice widely criticised over the years and frowned on by the International Cricket Council (ICC). 

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