LAHORE: Pakistan’s football matters took another twist on Thursday when the Supreme Court accepted the appeal of the Arshad Lodhi Group and said that the apex court would itself hold the elections of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF), insiders told ‘The News’.
The insiders, who were present in the court, said that the Chief Justice made it clear that the June 30, 2015 elections of the PFF held in Changla Galli had been conducted despite the injunction orders as Lahore High Court (LHC) had issued a stay order on June 29.
Faisal Saleh Hayat had been re-elected in the June 30, 2015 elections for the fourth successive period as the PFF president.
Sources added that the august court said that the PFF administrator Asad Munir would stay till elections are held.
The court has asked the Faisal Group to appear before the apex court after 15 days. Sources said that the Faisal Group would explain its stance before the apex court.
Lahore High Court, in its verdict on February 2, had advised the PFF administrator to hand over the control of the federation to the new office-bearers within seven days of the receipt of the certified copy of the order.
After a few days of the order, Arshad Lodhi Group filed an appeal in the Supreme Court with the plea that the apex court should hold elections of the PFF and allow the administrator to continue working till elections are held.
According to sources, the other day Faisal Group’s contempt appeal against the PFF administrator had also been rejected by the LHC on the ground that the appellant was not a legal person to file an appeal.
The LHC further says, “There is nothing in the ICA which directs the administrator to hand over the control of the PFF to the petitioners, rather it directs the administrator to hand over the PFF to the new office-bearers.
“If there is any issue or concern on this account, it is for the administrator to bring it to the notice of the Court. So far as the petitioner is concerned, since he has no authorization to file the writ petition, he has no locus standi to file the instant Criminal Original as well,” the court said.
Because of the litigation between the two groups, football has been inactive in Pakistan since April 2015. Pakistan not only missed several international events but it also failed to host its Premier League for two successive seasons.
The real issue started with the controversial elections of the Punjab Football Association (PFA) in April 2015. After a series of different happenings, the PFF suspended 20 members of Punjab football.
Arshad Lodhi Group then convened an extraordinary meeting of the so-called PFF Congress in Islamabad and suspended the PFF president Faisal Saleh Hayat and terminated the federation’s secretary Col Ahmad Yar Lodhi.
After a few days in June 2015, Arshad Lodhi Group occupied the PFF headquarters in Lahore. All the accounts of the FIFA-recognised PFF were frozen. Despite the stay order on June 29, 2015, Faisal Group held elections in Changla Galli in the presence of observer of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
The elections, however, were later declared null and void by the LHC’s single bench which appointed Asad Munir as the PFF administrator with the orders that the former justice would be drawing a handsome salary of Rs 450,000 per month.
FIFA, in August 2015, had sent a fact-finding mission which met both the groups in Lahore. And in October the same year, FIFA decided to give two years to Fasisal Group in which it had to revise its constitution and hold fresh PFF elections.
But as the accounts were frozen, legal proceedings were in progress and the PFF headquarters was in possession of the Arshad Lodhi Group, nothing could be done regarding FIFA’s instructions. The two years will end in September.
In last summer, the LHC’s single bench also dismissed the petitions of the PFF it had filed against the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) in which it had challenged the legal entity of the Board.
The PFF then filed an intra-court appeal and on February 2, the LHC’s division bench dismissed the petitions of the PFF on the ground that these were not maintainable as the appellant was not a legal person.
And now the apex court has been moved which accepted Arshad Lodhi Group’s appeal besides giving several other major decisions.