The accountability court Sukkur on Monday deferred indictment of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Syed Khursheed Shah in assets beyond known sources of income case. NAB’s counsel requested the court to defer the indictment as more evidence against PPP’s Khursheed Shah has been collected. Accepting NAB’s request, the court adjourned the hearing of the case till September 8.
The hearing of the case was presided over by AC Judge Farid Anwar Qazi. PPP leader Khursheed Shah and other accused appeared before the court.
Talking to newsmen, Shah said that the NAB has failed to register reference against him despite the passage of 12 months and vowed to fight corruption charges levelled against him.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had also nominated two wives, two sons and son-in-law of Khursheed Shah in the reference.
It is pertinent to mention here that the anti-graft watchdog had filed assets beyond means reference of Rs 1.23 billion against Syed Khursheed Shah and 17 co-accused.
The accountability court had granted bail to Shah in December after the accountability bureau’s delay in filing reference against him. However, the Sindh High Court (SHC) Circuit Bench Sukkur later suspended the accountability court’s orders dated Dec 17 to grant bail to the veteran Peoples Party leader.
Earlier in the month of April, the SHC also rejected the plea filed by Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Syed Khursheed Shah, seeking bail in the assets case.
NAB does not enjoy a good repute in Pakistan due to its inability to effectively file references against corrupt politicians. There has not been a single case where the NAB could have performed as per the expectations of the citizens. The deliberate loophole left in references give ample opportunity to the alleged persons to evade accountability.
SC slams NAB in its latest judgment
In the detailed, 87-page ruling, penned by Justice Maqbool Baqar, the court highlighted severe lapses in the NAB’s due process and legal procedure, the definition and purpose of bail, and due processes in criminal cases. This judgment is the reason behind demanding to abolish the NAB.
The court noted about the NAB that its “conduct throughout this case is a clear manifestation of their utter disregard for law, fair play, equity, and propriety”.
“In this country, it would be quite contrary to the concept of personal liberty enshrined in the Constitution that any person should be punished in respect of any matter, upon which, he has not been convicted or that in any circumstances, he should be deprived of his liberty upon only the belief that he will tamper with the witnesses if left at liberty, save in the most extraordinary circumstances.
Justice Baqar further underlined that “all civilized societies recognize the principle that punishment comes only after conviction, and the presumption of innocence subsist with the accused, till he is handed down the punishment after trial”. “It hardly needs any reiteration that the detention either pre-trial or during trial causes great hardship,” the judgment added.
According to the judge, it was unfortunate that “even after 72 years since the creation of our country, and despite 47 years since the adoption of the Constitution, we have not been able to realize the spirit and essence of the ideals set out therein”.
Evidence against PPP’s Khursheed and “Nobody can dictate NAB”?
In 2019, Justice (Retd) Javed Iqbal, Chairman NAB, made it clear that the NAB law was not a black law. “Many Socrates and Platos have come to life who have never read the NAB law but still criticize and call it a black law,” said the NAB chairman.
While addressing the gathering, the chairman categorically rejected what he termed as “malicious propaganda” against the watchdog, while vowing to continue work according to the Constitution of Pakistan.
The NAB chairman said, “If NAB was a black law, the Supreme Court would have abolished it.” “This is a black law for those who are still involved in stealing,” the chairman stressed.
He said that he has always welcomed criticism, but it should be logical and conceivable. The NAB chairman warned that the accountability watchdog would act against those taking part in corruption. “If there wasn’t corruption, Pakistan would not need to take loans.”
Justice (Retd) Iqbal further said there was no person who could dictate NAB, adding there was propaganda being done against the bureau. “The time when corruption was overlooked has passed,” the NAB chairman warned. “If anyone commits corruption, then he/she will have to confront NAB.”
It is to be seen whether the NAB has really collected new evidence against PPP’s Khursheed Shah or not. The case is again to determine the future of the NAB as there is a persistent demand by the opposition parties to abolish it.