Haaris Ramzan The recent allegations of corruption and malprac tice by the International Cricket Council (ICC) against three top Pakistani cricket players have left the country in a state of disarray and confusion. The role of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has always been under a magnifying glass, but the worrying factor is that it has failed miserably, as being the employer to provide adequate facilitation to its national assets for a proper legal representation at an international level. The ICC has charged Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir with offences under Article 2 of the ICC Anti-Corruption Code for Players and Player Support Personnel (Anti-Corruption Code) relating to alleged irregular behaviour during the fourth Test between England and Pakistan at Lords, last summer. At present, these players have been informed officially about the offences they are alleged to have committed and have been provisionally suspended. This means they are immediately barred from participating in all cricket related activities until the case has been concluded. Article 2 of the Anti-Corruption Code, outlines the offences that can be committed by any player or player support staff in their general conduct. The offences are corruption, betting, misuse of inside information and certain other general provisions. To the best of my understanding and in accordance with the media reports, the charge sheet or the exact offences that have been levelled against these players have not been made public. According to Article 4, which concerns investigation and notice of charges, Article 4.6.1 explicitly gives the Anti-Corruption Code Units General Manager to decide unilaterally the fate of any player on mere allegations of corruption. Till the pendency of the matter before the Anti-Corruption Code Tribunal, he can suspend the players on allegations that he deems serious enough that can bring the repute of the game into disrepute. Interestingly, such unilateral powers granted to a single individual can result in injustice against certain individuals and the game itself. The allegations against the Pakistani players have been reported in none other than one of the most notorious tabloids of Britain. The same tabloid has also reported a crime of a similar nature committed by Indian star batsman Suresh Raina, but unfortunately not a single statement has been issued by the ICC. The rules of natural justice also demand that fair and equal treatment should be given to all individuals and such a bias can tremendously dent the impartiality of the ICC. What the ICC has also failed to realise is that these players are professionals and their bread and butter is earned through cricket. They are at their peak fitness levels and have been performing well for their country. By passing such a harsh order they have not only jeopardised their careers, but have also halted their only source of income. Article 4.6.2 provides the players with an opportunity to contest the provisional suspension in a provisional hearing. The said article clearly establishes the burden of proof on ACSU General Manager to establish firstly, that there is a strong arguable case against the players and that in such a scenario the integrity of the sport could be seriously undermined if a provisional sanction was not imposed. In accordance with the media reports, the suspension of the three Pakistani players has been upheld in the provisional hearing. From a very basic legalistic understanding, such allegations on mere media reports are very difficult to impose a criminal sanction on any individual. Article 5 discusses the disciplinary procedure that shall be adopted in a full tribunal hearing, following the procedure mentioned in the above-mentioned paragraph. Article 5.1.4.2 lays down the procedure of the players trial. This includes a list of the witnesses that ICC may call and any exhibits that the council intends to introduce at the hearing. It is yet to be seen from any source available that except for media allegations there have been no reported witnesses, interviews or any other incriminating material found against the trio. Article 5.1.10 empowers the Chairman of the Anti-Corruption Tribunal to follow a procedure at the behest of his discretion, according to which he would consider that a fair trial may be given to any player. To the best of my understanding, such a levy is against established international legal norms and can prove unjust at certain instances. These norms are against the basic rules of evidence and imputation of a criminal charge. Such charges are to be proved on a legal threshold (beyond reasonable doubt). This means that the tribunal will have to come up with such concrete evidence, which would specify the criminal intention of these players, and that they were at all material times involved in such corrupt practices. An example of such evidence could be individuals, who are witness to any meetings between the players and alleged bookmakers, telephonic conversation and any other documentary evidence. Even with the existence of abovementioned, they are subject to cross-examination by the players councils. Generally, with the absence of such materials, it is very hard to prove these allegations in a fair trial. Section 7 deals with any appeal mechanism that may be granted, if an adverse decision is passed. The court of arbitration for sports is the appropriate forum that has the authority to entertain any such appeal. Article 8 talks about public disclosure and confidentiality. Interestingly, Article 8.1 gives the ICC the discretionary authority, if it considers appropriate either to publish or not to publish the findings of the tribunal. This article deprives the fans and the general public of their basic human right and that is the right to know. The PCB must put its house to order and give its players proper legal understanding, as well as representation, so that they are in a strong position to contest the allegations against them. The writer is a practicing barrister and a director at the Research Society of International Law (RSIL). Email: haarisramzan@rsilpak.org