NAB’s power to arrest suspects challenged in LHC

Court also seeks reply from federal govt on petition demanding supremacy of parliament


Our Correspondent December 18, 2018
PHOTO: LHC.GOV.PK

LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) power to arrest a suspect before the completion of its investigation was challenged at the Lahore High Court. The grounds provided were that such a move was contrary to fundamental rights.

The petitioner’s counsel, A.K Dogar contended that sections 24 (a) and (d) of the NAB Ordinance 1999 is in violation of Article 10 (1) of the Constitution. He added that these laws need to be struck down.

He said that arrest of a person during investigation and trial is inconsistent with Article 10 of the Constitution (safeguards as to arrest and detention) for two reasons. Firstly, no person can remain in custody unless he is informed of the grounds of his arrest because they can only be established after the investigation is completed. Secondly, he says, no investigation is constitutionally valid unless an accused has been granted the fundamental right to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice.

Therefore, the petitioner pleads, that NAB has a constitutional obligation not to deny any suspect the right of consulting and being defended by a lawyer at the time of investigation.

The petitioner asked the court to declare sections 24 (a) and (d) of the NAB Ordinance 1999 as ultra vires of the Constitution and dictum laid down by the Supreme Court in case of “Khan Asfandyar Wali vs Federation of Pakistan PLD-2001.”

He further prayed the court restrain NAB from arresting citizens under its invalid powers. He asked the LHC to order the release of hundreds of accused persons who have been taken into custody by the anti-corruption watchdog.

Meanwhile, Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh of the Lahore High Court sought a reply from the federal government on a writ petition seeking an order to declare as the parliament powerful and supreme institution. It said that judges and officers of the armed forces should be made accountable.

Lawyers Foundation for Justice filed the petition through its counsel A.K.Dogar. It contended the state exercises power through its elected members. He asked that judges and the armed forces be brought into the net of accountability as Islam does not allow impunity to anyone.

He told the court that failure to do so is tantamount to violating Article 25 of the Constitution. He asked that parliament be declared a supreme institution which could summon judges and the heads of the armed forces.

He argued that an order be passed to apply NAB laws on officers of the armed forces and judges. He further prayed that parliament be declared the supreme institution of the country.

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