Supreme Court of Pakistan: The three-judge Bench of Mian Saqib Nisar, Ijaz Ul Ahsan and Sajjad Ali Shah, JJ. hearing a civil review petition was seized with the question as to whether Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) is a ‘person’ performing public functions in connection with the affairs of Federation of Pakistan under Article 199(1)(a) of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. 

POA is an autonomous society registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860; affiliated under the Olympic Charter with the International Olympics Committee as the National Olympic Committee for Pakistan. It is not controlled by the Federal Government; isn’t a statutory body, and has no affiliation from the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB).

The Court relied on Abdul Wahab v. HBL, 2013 SCC OnLine Pak SC 84 where it was held that two important factors for ‘function test’ are: (i) the extent of financial interest of the State/Federation in an institution, and (ii) State’s dominance in controlling affairs thereof.

It was opined that none of the functions of POA involved exercise of sovereign power or public power. While the Federal Government did approve the selection of contingents and gave its consent to POA, such an act did not amount to executive control. Federal Government did not exercise decision-making authority even if PSB was involved in scrutinising and approving teams. Bulk of the activities carried out by POA were privately funded; only the activity of sending teams to Olympics was funded by the federal government; and while it was an expensive undertaking, it was only part of what POA did. Further, the State had no financial interest in the functions of POA.

In view of the above, it was held that POA did not satisfy the ‘function test’ and therefore, was not exercising public functions and was not a ‘person’ as per Article 199(5) of the Constitution. As such, no writ of quo warranto could lie against its office holders, nor could a writ lie against the Association in terms of Article 199(1)(a) of the Constitution.[Pakistan Olympic Association v. Nadeem Aftab Sindhu, CRP No. 412 of 2014, Order dated 01-01-2019]

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