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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Supreme Court once again slams NAB for promoting selective accountability

The Supreme Court on Wednesday slammed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for promoting selective accountability and warned of action if the anti-graft body does not mend its ways.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday slammed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for promoting selective accountability and warned of action if the anti-graft body does not mend its ways, reported The News. The remarks were issued by a three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, hearing the bail applications of Dr Dinshaw Anklesaria and Jameel Baloch, the accused in the fake bank accounts case.

The court approved Dr Dinshaw Anklesaria’s bail but barred him from leaving the country and directed him to cooperate with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the ongoing investigation.

Rashid A Rizvi, counsel for Dr Dinshaw, and Prosecutor General National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Asghar Haider had appeared before the court in the case on Wednesday.

During the hearing, the NAB prosecutor general informed the court that the anti-graft body did not oppose Dr Dinshaw’s bail but were against it being provided to government officials. Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, a member of the bench, observed that NAB was reluctant to apprehend influential people.

Justice Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi observed that NAB does not arrest people against whom evidence is available, adding that it arrests government officials of lower grade first.

The judged expressed his annoyance over the partial action taken by NAB in various instances, saying that the accountability watchdog takes action and then the Supreme Court is blamed for bailing culprits out. “A goat thief is sent behind bars but people involved in mega corruption are roaming free,” said Justice Naqvi. He added that NAB does not have the authority to work according to its will.

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“If NAB wants to work according to its vested wishes, it should amend Article 9 of the NAB Act,” said the judge. He also warned that the apex court “will hold accountable those who stop NAB from working”.

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”.

“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.”

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Experts believe that the government should not abolish the NAB rather it needs to be thoroughly reformed in order to make it effective and in line with the basic values as prescribed in the constitution of Pakistan.