News Desk |
Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Asif Saeed Khosa took the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to task on Thursday saying the bureau’s objective should be to prove cases instead of only making arrests.
While rejecting NAB’s appeal against the acquittal of a man, Jahan Khan, in a corruption case, the CJP questioned the role of the accountability watchdog. “What exactly does NAB do? Is registering cases the only objective of the accountability watchdog,” CJP Khosa questioned. “Proving the case and ensuring punishment is also part of NAB’s job.”
Inordinate delays in hearing of appeals expose the flaws of the criminal justice system. There are several examples of men whom the Supreme Court has exonerated after their death.
Supreme Court’s three-member bench headed by the CJP dismissed NAB’s appeal against Khan, who was being investigated for alleged corruption as a cashier of the National Bank. A high court had acquitted him four years ago. Subsequently, NAB had challenged his acquittal before the top court.
During the hearing, the court remarked that NAB should bring the evidence along with the cases. “The suspect has been wrangled for the last 19 years. There is not a shred of evidence to support what the suspect has been accused of,” Justice Khosa said. “Because of NAB people are under mental stress,” he added.
While examining the evidence, the court noted that the suspect had received 120 kanal of property from his father, mother and sister. In addition, CJP Khosa said that NAB themselves had written that the suspect had over Rs8 million in assets and had bought property for Rs4.6 million.
While expressing displeasure, the top judge said that NAB should be fined for this. “From 2001 to 2019, you were dragging [along] a person for no reason,” he was quoted as saying by an English daily. “Who will be accountable for the 18 years that NAB has bugged Jahan Khan,” he questioned. CJP Khosa said that the court has to make decisions on the basis of the law and evidence.
Inordinate Delays Expose Flaws of Justice System
Inordinate delays in hearing of appeals expose the flaws of the criminal justice system. There are several examples of men whom the Supreme Court has exonerated after their death. On Monday, the top court had absolved Col (retd) Iftikhar Ahmad Awan of charges of corruption four years after his death. In October 2016, the apex court had acquitted Mazhar Hussain two years after his death.
When the judgment was announced, even the apex court was not aware that Hussain had passed away due to the coronary failure in prison a couple of years ago.
In Awan’s case, the NAB had filed a reference against him in 2001 on grounds that he had allegedly committed irregularities in the Services Cooperative Credit Corporation Limited (SCCCL). On June 12, 2002, an accountability court in Lahore had convicted the retired colonel and sentenced him to 14-year in prison and imposed a fine of Rs250,870,000 as well as an additional fine of Rs500,000,000.
Later, in the high court, his conviction was maintained but the sentence was reduced from 14 years to five years. Then the matter came before the Supreme Court, which exonerated Awan four years after his death. Similarly, in October 2016, the Supreme Court had exonerated Mazhar Hussain, who was convicted of murder and handed down the death sentence by a sessions court in April 2004.
When the judgment was announced, even the apex court was not aware that Hussain had passed away due to the coronary failure in prison a couple of years ago. “He did not live to see the day when he would be acquitted,” an English paper reported. His case had triggered the debate about delays in hearing of appeals.
Hussain’s exoneration came about 19 years after he was accused of murdering Muhammad Ismail in May 1997 in Dhoke Ali Haider within the jurisdiction of the Sihala police station, Islamabad.