NAB appointment must for Hudabiya review plea

Officials mull petition against SC’s refusal to reopen case

Danish Hussain December 18, 2017
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif (R) with his brother Shehbaz Sharif. PHOTO: REUTERS / FILE

ISLAMABAD: Delay on part of the government in appointing the new prosecutor general of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) can cause difficulties in filing a review petition against the Supreme Court’s recent judgment against reopening the Hudabiya Paper Mills case.

According to sources, the accountability watchdog is considering filing the review petition against the December 15 dismissal by the apex court of its appeal to reopen the Rs1.2 billion money laundering reference against the Sharif family.

“As far as initial deliberations among senior officials are concerned, the bureau has considered filing appeal against SC’s judgment. It’s been decided that the bureau will go through the detailed written verdict, expected to be released in the next couple of days, to weigh pros and cons before taking the final decision in this regard,” a NAB official said on Monday.

NAB has a deadline of January 15 to file the petition. However, under special circumstances or on a request on particular grounds, the court can extend the time.

Under the law, no appeal can be filed in a court without the approval of the prosecutor general (PG) and in view of a high court order, an additional or special prosecutor general cannot work as acting PG. “Appeal filed by the acting prosecutor general, NAB, during the period when office of the prosecutor general, accountability, was lying vacant was incompetently filed,” the high court declared while dismissing an appeal.

It ruled that NAB could not take benefit of section 8(d) of the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 in case the post was vacant. “In case the prosecutor general, accountability, is absent or unable to perform the functions of his office due to any reason whatsoever, any other law officer of NAB, duly authorised by the chairman, NAB, shall act as the prosecutor general, accountability,” the section says.

The court clarified, “Chairman, NAB, could only authorise any other law officer of NAB to act as prosecutor general, accountability, when the latter (PG) was absent or unable to perform a function of his office due to any reason whatsoever. Such powers could not be exercised by chairman, NAB, for finding a substitute for prosecutor general, accountability, during a period when the office of PG was lying vacant.”

SC dismisses NAB's appeal to reopen Hudaibiya Mills case against Sharifs

It added that the power to appoint the NAB prosecutor general was vested in the president. “Allowing a person to act as prosecutor general during a period when president of Pakistan had not appointed anyone would amount to usurping president’s mandate.”

In view of the judgment, the delay in the appointment of the prosecutor general by the government in consultation with the NAB chairman would affect the filing of the review petition in the Hudabiya case.

Almost three weeks ago, NAB sent a summary to the president through the Ministry of Law and Justice for the appointment of the prosecutor general. The post has been vacant since last month, when the three-year tenure of former prosecutor general Waqas Qadeer Dar ended. NAB sent five names through the summary but has yet to receive a response.

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