Justice Malik Mohammad Qayyum, a judge on the Pakistan High Court who oversaw the investigation that ultimately resulted in life bans for Saleem Malik and Ata-ur-Rehman and named several other Pakistani players as participants in the initial wave of match-fixing in the late 1990s and early 2000s, has passed away. He was 79.
Being a senior judge on the Lahore High Court, a former attorney general, and the head of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Justice Qayyum was well-known in the legal world of Pakistan. He will be recognised for the rest of time as the person who oversaw one of the most thorough investigations into match-fixing anywhere and as the author of the ensuing report, which is now simply known as the Qayyum Report.
Justice Qayyum censured Wasim Akram, Mushtaq Ahmed, Waqar Younis, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Akram Raza, and Saeed Anwar with monetary fines and recommendations, in some cases, to limit their involvement in the game, in the report that was released after some delay in May 2000. He also permanently banned Malik and Rehman from the game. The investigation, which lasted a full year, from September 1998 to September 1999, was conducted in a courtroom at the Lahore High Court.
Almost 40 hearings were held in the central courtroom, where Justice Qayyum heard the testimony and evidence of close to 70 players, administrators, and ex-administrators, including nearly all of Pakistan’s biggest talents at the time. The report was completed a few weeks after the final hearings, but due to the report’s sensitive nature and the political unrest that followed (General Pervez Musharraf led a military takeover in October 1999 that toppled the democratically elected government at the time), it was not made public until May 2000, when Pakistan was on tour in the Caribbean. The one-wicket loss to the West Indies in Antigua, which started the day after it was released, was one of the most exciting Test matches in Pakistan’s history. Akram, who was heavily featured in the Qayyum report, took 11 wickets in the match.
At the time, the study was generally viewed favourably and recognised as the first instance of a board undertaking an in-depth examination into game corruption. A few years later, Justice Qayyum acknowledged in an interview with ESPNcricinfo that he may have had a “soft corner” for Akram and that this may have contributed to the sanctions he received, which included a PKR 300,000 fine and a recommendation that he never captain Pakistan again. This fueled criticism that the sanctions were not severe enough.
However, Justice Qayyum and Ali Sibtain Fazli, the attorney who accompanied him throughout the inquiry, contended that given the nature of the inquiry, the standards for punishment fell somewhere between those of a criminal and civil case. Although there had never been sufficient evidence to support heavier sanctions, the volume of testimony forced action, which led to the more measured sentences that were ultimately delivered. According to the report’s own conclusion by Justice Qayyum, “It should be mentioned that this Commission is cognizant of the effects a preliminary, speculative conviction in this Report will have on a player’s career. If this Report is made public, a guilty verdict will probably be interpreted as a conviction. The athlete is probably going to lose his job for the foreseeable future and perhaps the peak of his career.”
Judge Qayyum was the presiding judge in an infamous case of political corruption against the late Benazir Bhutto and her husband Asif Zardari at the same time the match-fixing investigation was ongoing, which serves as evidence of his importance to the country’s processes at the time.
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