NAB returns 26 cases to accountability courts

Arshad Aziz Malik
Friday, Sep 22, 2023

By our correspondent

ISLAMABAD/ PESHAWAR: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Thursday started sending back corruption references to the accountability courts in light of the Supreme Court’s September 15 verdict.

The apex court verdict declared certain provisions of the National Accountability (Amendment) Act 2022 and National Accountability (Second Amendment) Act 2022 as ultra-vires of the constitution.

Sources in the NAB said the regional offices of Karachi, Rawalpindi and Quetta had started submitting the references to the accountability courts, while the regional offices of Lahore, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Multan were compiling the data and would be submitting the details to the relevant accountability courts possibly within a day or two.

Of the 80 references submitted to the accountability courts registrar office, Islamabad, 26 have been sent to the accountability courts, while 54 would be sent to the relevant courts on Friday (today).

On the other hand, the judges of two of the three accountability courts established in Islamabad would be appointed soon, while the staff of accountability courts number 2 and 3 have been called back.

The record of cases was brought on two vehicles and submitted to the registrar office.

The Universal Services Funds corruption reference against former prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has been submitted to the Accountability Court No. 2, while the rental power plant reference against National Assembly Speaker and former premier Raja Pervez Ashraf has been submitted to the Accountability Court No. 3. The court has summoned the speaker.

The record of reference against a citizen, Abdul Ali, has been submitted to the Accountability Court No. 1, while the record of a reference filed against another citizen, Imran Mohsin, has been submitted to the Accountability Court No 2.

The record of reference against Farzana Raja and others concerning alleged misappropriation of Rs540 million in Benazir Income Support Program has been submitted to the Accountability Court No. 3, while Naudero Power Plant reference record against Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has been submitted to the Accountability Court No 3.

A list of 80 references was given to the Registrar Office.

According to the list, the Universal Services Fund reference was filed against Yusuf Raza Gilani in 2018 and another reference in 2020.

A reference was filed against former prime minister Shaukat Aziz.

The Park Lane reference against former president Asif Ali Zardari was filed in 2019 and another in 2021.

A reference against Raja Pervaiz Ashraf was filed in 2015, and one in 2016 and two in 2017.

Benazir Income Support Programme reference was filed against Farzana Raja in 2020. References against Ijaz Haroon etc. in Kidney Hill and Abdul Ghani Majeed and Anwar Majeed are also included in the list.

Meanwhile, in order to make the accountability process more efficient and effective, the NAB has decided to hire officers from the sensitive intelligence institutions.

According to sources, with the approval of NAB Chairman Nazir Ahmed, a letter was written to the Establishment Division a month ago for hiring the services of civil and military intelligence officers and personnel from on deputation.

Sources said, “Besides the services of intelligence agencies, the NAB has sought the technical services of officials from the State Bank of Pakistan, FBR, FIA and others for investigation of white-collar corruption inquiries.”

Sources said intelligence officers and officials appointed on deputation will perform their duties in the NAB offices on their own scale and salary.

In a related development, the NAB Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has sent around 134 cases back to the accountability courts.

The Peshawar Regional Office has resumed processing all the pending and closed inquiries which were stopped after the parliament amended the NAB Act.

The NAB KP has sent a letter to the registrar Accountability court-II, Peshawar.

The letter said the Hon’ble Supreme Court of Pakistan passed a judgment on September 15, 2023, wherein certain provisions of the National Accountability (Amendment) Act 2022 and National Accountability (Second Amendment) Act 2022 have been declared ultra-vires, whereas certain provisions have been declared intra-vires depending upon the classification of the accused persons.

Furthermore, paragraph 49 of the said judgment is of much importance seeking immediate compliance, saying that all orders passed by the NAB and/or the Accountability Courts placing reliance on the above Sections are declared null and void and of no legal effect.

The judgment said: “Therefore, all inquiries, investigations, and references which have been disposed of on the basis of the struck-down sections are restored to their positions prior to the enactment of the 2022 Amendments and shall be deemed to be pending with the relevant fora.”

The letter further said the Supreme Court had directed the NAB and all accountability courts to proceed further with the restored proceedings in accordance with the law and therefore immediate compliance of the Supreme Court is requested.