The federal government on Monday notified seven accountability courts judges in the province of Punjab.
The seats had been lying vacant since March 31 after the then-chief justice Muhammad Qasim Khan transferred 25 district and sessions judges in the province, including those hearing corruption cases filed against Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and other PML-N leaders.
The long-overdue filling of the vacant seat of an accountability court judge had also been a major cause in the delay of the trial of Shehbaz Sharif which remains unheard for five months.
According to the notification, in the exercise of powers conferred by section 5 (g) and (h) of National Accountability Ordinance 1999 (XVII of 1999) the president has pleased to appoint seven District & Session Judges as judges of accountability courts on three years deputation.
The notification reveals that Raja Qamar uz Zaman will work as a judge of accountability court I Rawalpindi while Ali Nawaz as accountability court judge Rawalpindi III, Tariq Mehmood Bajwa accountability court judge Multan II, Naseem Ahmed Virk accountability court judge Lahore II, Malik Ali Zulqarnain accountability court Lahore III, Muhammad Sajid Ali accountability court judge Lahore V an Aziz Ullah Kallue accountability court judge VI, who will work till the date of superannuation (May 31).
Earlier, the law ministry had questioned the “unilateral transfer” of accountability courts’ judges by former Lahore High Court (LHC) chief justice Muhammad Qasim Khan.
The ministry wrote a letter to incumbent LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti questioning the transfer of the judges in the province of Punjab.
Later, incumbent LHC sent new names for the appointment of accountability courts judges.
Later, the LHC former chief justice also sent nominations for accountability court judges. However, as the law ministry was not satisfied with those nominations, it delayed these appointments.
Soon after the retirement of Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan, the law ministry raised the issue of the transfer of accountability court judges with the new LHC chief justice.
The delay has also irked Prime Minister Imran Khan whose government, It is learnt, wants the conclusion of Shehbaz Sharif's trial before the next general elections.
The premier during a meeting with his legal aide one month ago expressed great concern over the delay in completion of the trial of politicians accused of graft.
Now the government has decided to focus – before the next general election – on those graft cases in which conviction of opposition leaders could be ensured.
They also said private counsels would be arranged for NAB for effective and expeditious prosecution in such cases.
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