KARACHI: The Supreme Court (SC) ruled on Monday that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) should file fresh appeals with the provincial high court against the acquittals of accused persons in corruption cases during the period when the posts of the federal anti-graft watchdog's chairperson and prosecutor-general were vacant.
A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and comprising Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, passed this order at the SC's Karachi Registry while disposing of nine appeals filed by NAB against the decision of the Sindh High Court (SHC) which said that the bureau could not file appeals during the period when the key posts of its chairperson and prosecutor-general were vacant.
A NAB prosecutor, Munsif Jan, informed the judges that NAB had filed appeals with the SHC in 2013 against the acquittal of more than nine accused persons in references related to corruption, misuse of official authority and other charges.
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The NAB prosecutor explained that the high court ruled that the federal anti-graft watchdog could not file appeals when the key posts of its chairperson and prosecutor-general were vacant, according to the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.
The prosecutor argued that if the high court's judgment was upheld, it would affect the fate of various appeals filed by the bureau across the country. It would also affect the future of various corruption references of billions of rupees, he added.
Justice Khosa remarked that the appointment of the NAB chairperson was a duty of the president under the Constitution. He added that if the president had not appointed the chairperson, it was not the bureau's fault.
The judge observed that the NAB authorities had fulfilled their obligation by filing the appeals in time. He remarked that although the appeals could not be filed in the absence of the NAB chairperson and prosecutor-general, NAB as an institution was not responsible for the non-appointment of its head and top prosecutor.
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The morale of NAB should not go down, Justice Khosa said. "In the given circumstances, NAB as an institution should not [be] affected."
The apex court directed the NAB prosecutor-general to file fresh appeals with the SHC, whereas the high court was directed to review the given circumstances while deciding the fate of such appeals in accordance with the law.