LAHORE: In a landmark decision, Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday restored Faisal Saleh Hayat as president of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) and asked the PFF administrator Asad Munir to give possession of the federation’s headquarters in Lahore to Faisal-led PFF within a week.
The PFF legal counsel Afzal Khan told this correspondent that the court also advised Asad to hand over the accounts to PFF within seven days. He has also been advised to submit the account statement to the court which he had used, while serving as PFF administrator.
Asad has been made bound to report to the court about actions he must take as per the court orders.
Asad was appointed by the LHC single bench as PFF administrator in July 2015. At that time, the single bench under Justice Farrukh Irfan Khan had also declared the PFF June 30, 2015 elections as null and void.
The double bench led by Justice Ayesha A. Malik set aside the order of the single bench which had declared the PFF elections null and void on the plea that the PFF was a private entity, affiliated with FIFA and so the court cannot interfere in its internal matters.
The order means that former justice Asad Munir will now cease his function as administrator and Faisal-led PFF will resume its duty.
Meanwhile, Asad told this correspondent that he had heard about court’s decision on Thursday but he was yet to get a copy of it.
“Once I will get the copy then I will be in a better position to tell you the facts,” Asad said.
The detailed judgment is expected to be released soon. The decision has paved the way for resumption of football activities in the country after a lapse of 21 months. Pakistan last played in international circuit in March-April 2015.
During the same long period Pakistan’s national and other age-group teams missed several international competitions. The country also failed to hold its Premier League in 2015 and 2016.
The conflict began when a controversy was created during the elections of Punjab Football Association (PFA) in April 2015.
After a series of dramatic incidents, the PFF imposed sanctions on 20 leading members of the PFA.
This infuriated Faisal-led PFF rival group being led by former PFF congress members Arshad Lodhi and Syed Zahir Shah. The group convened an extra-ordinary congress in Islamabad in mid-June 2015 and suspended PFF president Faisal and terminated the services of his secretary Col Ahmed Yar Lodhi.
After a few days, Zahir Shah Group occupied the PFF headquarters in Lahore. Faisal group then went on to hold its elections at Changla Galli, Abbottabad, on June 30, 2015 despite the court stay order issued on June 29.
Faisal had got elected for the fourth four-year tenure as PFF chief. The elections were observed by the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) observer.
Zahir Shah group then filed contempt of court appeal against Faisal and his close aides and the same case also got dismissed as LHC announced on Thursday, sources say.
In early August 2015, FIFA sent a three-member fact-finding mission that met with both the groups in Lahore. The mission then submitted its report to FIFA and the world football governing body in October 2015 announced its decision by giving two years to Faisal-led PFF with the instructions that it must revise its constitution and hold fresh elections by September 2017.
But as the PFF headquarters and accounts were in possession of the Zahir Shah group, the PFF could not do anything in that direction.
In wake of May 8, 2012 Supreme Court decision, the PFF had filed a case against Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) in which the Board’s legal entity had been challenged. It was a very vital case and sources said that the Board had failed to defend itself.
In summer last year, the single bench had dismissed all the of the PFF it had filed against the PSB. However, the PFF had opted for an intra-court appeal and the double bench dealt the case and ultimately announced its decision on Thursday.