Justice Malik Mohammad Qayyum, the Pakistan high court judge who headed the inquiry that eventually led to life bans for Saleem Malik and Ata-ur-Rehman and implicated a number of other Pakistani players in the first wave of match-fixing in the late 1990s and early 2000s, has died. He was 79.
Justice Qayyum was a prominent figure in the Pakistan legal community, as a senior judge in the Lahore High Court, a former Attorney General as well as a president of the Supreme Court Bar Association. To the wider world, and certainly to the cricketing one, he will forever be remembered as the man who headed one of the most comprehensive inquiries into match-fixing anywhere, and as the author of the subsequent report – now known simply as the Qayyum Report.
In the report, published after some delay in May 2000, Justice Qayyum banned Malik and Rehman for life from the game, and censured Wasim Akram, Mushtaq Ahmed, Waqar Younis, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Akram Raza and Saeed Anwar with monetary fines as well as recommendations, in some cases, to limit their involvement in the game. The report was the result of a year-long inquiry, between September 1998 and September 1999, held in a court room at the Lahore High Court.
In the centre courtroom, Justice Qayyum conducted over 40 hearings and heard the testimonies and evidence of nearly 70 players and ex-players, administrators and ex-administrators – including nearly all of Pakistan’s biggest stars at the time. The report was ready a few weeks after the final hearings but because of the sensitivity of its contents, as well as ensuing political turmoil – General Pervez Musharraf instigated a military coup in October 1999, throwing out the democratic government of the day – it was not made public until May 2000, while Pakistan were touring the Caribbean. The day after it was published began one of the most thrilling Tests in Pakistan’s history, the one-wicket loss to West Indies in Antigua in which Akram – a prominent presence in the Qayyum report – took 11 wickets.
At the time, the report was seen in a broadly positive light, acknowledged as the first instance of a board conducting a thorough investigation into corruption in the game. Some critics, however, argued it didn’t go far enough in punishing players, a sense that was reinforced a few years later when Justice Qayyum, in an interview with ESPNcricinfo, admitted that a “soft corner” for Akram might have played a part in the sanctions he was handed out – a fine of PKR 300,000 and a recommendation that he never captain Pakistan again.
Justice Qayyum, and Ali Sibtain Fazli, the lawyer who worked with him through the inquiry, argued, however, that the nature of the inquiry meant the yardsticks for punishment fell somewhere between a criminal and civil case. Hard evidence had always been lacking for harsher punishments, but the sheer weight of testimonies meant something had to be done; the result was the more measured sentences that came out. As Justice Qayyum concluded in the report itself, “…it must also be added that this Commission is aware of what consequences a preliminary, tentative finding of guilt in this Report will have on the career of a player. If this Report is released to the public, a finding of guilt are likely to effectively amount to a conviction. The player is likely to lose his livelihood for the time being and possibly the prime of his career.”
As an indicator of Justice Qayyum’s centrality to the country’s proceedings at the time, he was also the sitting judge in an infamous case of political corruption against the late Benazir Bhutto and her husband Asif Zardari at the same time as the match-fixing inquiry was running.