ISLAMABAD : The top court has taken strong exception to the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) failure to complete trial proceedings within the 30-day limit set under Section 16 of its governing law.
The court observed that NAB did not have a single case to show where the trial of an accused was completed within the 30-day limit. The bench went on to say that NAB has become a facilitator of corruption.
A three-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Dost Muhammad Khan, also granted bail to former Balochistan food minister Asfandyar Kakar who had been arrested by the watchdog on charges of corruption.
The bench also expressed dissatisfaction with the performance of NAB Balochistan Director General Irfan Mangi. It noted that if he was performing well, most of the cases pending in the regional office would have been decided in a timely manner.
Another member of bench, Justice Qazi Faez Isa, suggested that if the name of the NAB DG were included as a co-accused in this case, things might actually improve.
Justice Dost Muhammad Khan observed that until recently, Mangi was the subject of an inquiry, but now he is being hailed as a hero in some quarters – due to his being a member of the Panama Papers case Joint Investigation Team – adding that they cannot take action against him over his performance because the Panama Papers verdict grants him job security.
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The July 28 Panama Papers ruling appreciated the work of the JIT members and observed that their service tenures shall be protected to ensure that no adverse action of any nature including premature transfers or postings shall be taken against them without informing the monitoring judge appointed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan.
Meanwhile, during the hearing, NAB’s special prosecutor told the bench that former food minister was not directly involved in embezzlement but he had aided the main accused.
On the other hand, Iftikhar Gilani, counsel for applicant, stated that two accused persons have already secured bail, adding that the high court has granted bail to the main accused. After hearing this, the bench granted bail to the accused against two surety bonds of Rs5 million each.
Meanwhile, the bench rejected the bail application of former provincial director food Abdul Wali Kakar, who was involved in the same wheat scam. The court asked the accused to cooperate with NAB in the investigation. He was later arrested at the court's premises.
During the hearing, the bench also expressed concern over NAB’s lax approach to disposing of corruption cases. It observed that the NAB seems uninterested in providing speedy justice.
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The court also questioned how the high court had granted interim bail to the accused for two years and had still not decided on the matter, adding that the high court, in writ jurisdiction, could only decide cases on incontrovertible facts. Justice Khan said that the superior courts are also bound to act under the law and the constitution.
In the meantime, Justice Isa asked the counsel that when laws exist regarding the elimination of the feudal system, why are they not being implemented. The counsel stated that the court should take notice. Justice Dost Muhammad Khan lamented that though such things may change on paper, in practice, the system remains unchanged.
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