Unhappy judges: SHC dissatisfied with NAB apology, demands explanation

Accountability bureau officials issued a call up notice to a court officer on Feb 18


Z Ali April 08, 2016
PHOTO: NATIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY BUREAU

HYDERABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) earned the ire of the Sindh High Court (SHC) after they overstepped their official authority.

Accustomed to issuing notices to people suspected of involvement in corruption, NAB invited the judiciary's ire when a protocol officer of the SHC Hyderabad Circuit was given a call-up notice on February 18.

On Thursday's hearing NAB's deputy director of coordination Salahuddin Mughal and assistant director Sarwar Ahmed Khan submitted in writing an unconditional apology. "The undersigned… reiterate that the said call up notice was issued due to a mistake and the same has already been withdrawn in writing," read the written apologies submitted separately by Mughal and Khan. However, the repentance did not satisfy the judges and protocol officer Khalid Hussain Bhatti.



"Mughal is once again directed to submit a detailed written explanation on the next date [April 14] ... and also as to why he did not withdraw the call-up notice promptly and immediately after realising the mistake within two to three days from February 18," reads the order given by the division bench.

Meanwhile, Bhatti in his written reply to the apologies said, "The respondents have realised that they have committed a mistake, which is an afterthought to save their skin".

Karachi-based NAB official Mughal issued the call-up notice to Bhatti on February 18, requiring his appearance before NAB authorities. The notice said 'his office', which is the SHC, is in possession of information or evidence which relates to the commission of an offence under inquiry against former forests secretary Waseem Ahmed Ursani and others.

Bhatti informed the court that on March 31, Khan visited the Hyderabad Circuit Bench's deputy registrar in pursuance of the call-up notice. "Intention of the respondents' [visit] was to further the cause of the call-up notice, though I was expecting written withdrawal by the NAB authorities," he said.

The following day, Bhatti filed a complaint application in the SHC, which summoned both the officials on April 5. NAB withdrew the notice on April 5.

The bench noted that though in his verbal reply Mughal said he realised the mistake two to three days after issuing the notice on February 18, he could not explain why the notice was not withdrawn until April 5.

"The only justification given by him was that the call-up notice was placed before him by his clerk along with a bunch of similar notices and due to rush of work, the same was signed by him as a matter of routine," the judges observed.

The court asked NAB to explain under which law the court was put on notice on allegations that the court is in possession of information or evidence relating to the commission of an alleged offence. The hearing will resume on April 14.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th,  2016.

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