Umar Akmal‘s three-year ban has been reduced by one-and-a-half years by an independent adjudicator, retired Supreme Court judge, Faqir Mohammad Khokhar. The batsman attended the hearing in person in Lahore, and with the reduced ban, he will remain suspended effectively from February 2020 till August 2021. Akmal said he might appeal again to try and get it “reduced further.”
Akmal had been banned from all representative cricket in April this year after he failed to report details of corrupt approaches made to him ahead of this year’s PSL. He did accept then that the incidents which formed the basis of the two charges pressed against him by the PCB had taken place, but pointed out that the circumstances were such that they did not merit reporting to the board. Each charge carried a three-year ban which were running concurrently.
In May, Akmal filed an official appeal against the ban, challenging the length of the sanction and hoping to get it reduced. His appeal was based on the narrative that players who had fallen foul in a similar manner to Akmal previously were handed far lighter sanctions, with Mohammad Irfan banned in 2017 for six months, and Mohammad Nawaz given a two-month ban. But it had emerged that he had been handed the stiffer-than-expected penalty for failing to show sufficient remorse.
“I am thankful to the judge for listening to my lawyers properly,” Akmal said after the hearing. “I will decide about the remaining sentence and try to get it reduced further. For now I am not satisfied and will consult my lawyers and family how to take this ahead. There are many players before me who made mistakes and just look at what they got and what I got. So all I say right now is thank you very much.”
Akmal initially did not contest the PCB charges, foregoing the right to plea his innocence. The case was directed to the chairman of the PCB’s independent disciplinary panel who, after hearing both the PCB and Akmal handed down the three year ban. The judge Justice (retd) Fazal-e-Miran Chauhan had observed that Akmal had failed to give any plausible explanation for not reporting the matter to the PCB’s vigilance and anti-corruption departments and was in breach of article 2.4.4, and was deemed to have engaged in corrupt conduct under the anti-corruption code of the PCB. Akmal had attended that hearing without a lawyer, presenting his case himself. Should he wish to appeal against the reduced ban, Akmal’s recourse would have to be the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.
After Akmal had been banned for three years in April, the PCB counsel had said he was satisfied with the verdict, indicating the penalties for breaching the anti-corruption code needed to be made stiffer. “This three-year ban on the basis of non-reporting is considered appropriate,” he had said. “The PCB was asking for a stiffer sentence. It’s high time that duration of the ban should be increased because it’s very clear that players are not learning the lessons as much as they should have. So as far as the legal side is concerned, I am very satisfied as the duration of the ban is reasonable, justified and proportionate.” There has been no comment yet from the PCB on today’s ruling.