While the apex court is pressuring the government into implementing its verdict on the defunct National Reconciliation Ordinance in toto, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) find itself bound in legal shackles.
The National Accountability Ordinance 1999 restricts NAB from initiating criminal proceedings in service matters, sources told The Express Tribune.
In its NRO ruling, the Supreme Court had directed NAB to take action against Ahmed Riaz Sheikh, the sacked additional director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Adnan Khwaja, the sacked managing director of the state-run Oil and Gas Development Corporation (OGDC) and officials of the establishment division, interior ministry and FIA who are involved in the illegal contractual appointment of Khawaja and illegal reinstatement and promotion of Sheikh.
A senior NAB officer told The Express Tribune that the bureau can take action in service cases only if these involve financial corruption. “But for action against these officials, the NAO 1999 needs to be amended,” he added.
NAB had served notices on former establishment secretary Muhammad Ismail Qureshi, former attorney general Malik Muhammad Qayyum, OGDC’s former MD Adnan Khawaja, FIA’s former ADG Ahmed Riaz Sheikh and other officials of the establishment division, interior ministry and FIA who were “responsible for illegal contractual appointment” of Khawaja and reinstatement and promotion of Sheikh.
According to the procedure, these officers will face departmental inquiries, during which they will be given a chance to defend themselves, failing which legal action will be taken against them.
On Friday, the interior ministry, establishment division and FIA officers, who were allegedly involved in the illegal reinstatement of Sheikh and illegal appointment of Khawaja presented relevant records and recorded their statements in the NAB headquarters in Islamabad.
“The NAB headquarters will remain open on Saturday despite public holiday where investigators will record statements of Quraishi, Khawaja and Sheikh,” a senior official of the bureau said. “Regional offices in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Quetta and Karachi will remain open on Saturday,” he added.
Broadcast media outlets reported on Friday that Khawaja and Sheikh have been taken into custody but NAB officials refused to confirm the arrests till the filing of this report.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2012.
More in PakistanBy-elections for five NA seats on Feb 20