NAB chief to stay until new successor

Amendment to NAO 1999 will be made for this purpose


Hasnaat Malik October 05, 2021

ISLAMABAD:

The PTI-led government on Tuesday decided to extend the tenure of incumbent National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal until a new successor was appointed in his place.

Justice (retd) Javed was appointed during the tenure of the PML-N government and his tenure was supposed to end on October 8 this year.

Sources told The Express Tribune that the Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a meeting on Tuesday wherein this decision was made. This was the third meeting in the last seven days on the issue of amendments to the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 as well as the appointment or extension of the anti-graft body chief.

The latest meeting was attended by Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem, Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar and Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood among others.

Earlier, the AGP shared a draft of the proposed amendments to the NAO with the premier. Later, the law minister also gave his own suggestions on the matter. The participants deliberated upon the proposed changes.

As the Supreme Court observed that the office of the NAB chief should not be vacated, the government has decided to extend the tenure of the incumbent chairman until the appointment of his successor. For this purpose, an amendment to the NAO would be made.

Read Govt may retain Javed Iqbal as NAB chief

It is learnt that after thorough consideration, the government functionaries have agreed to amend almost 12 sections in the NAO.

Firstly, the provision regarding non-extendable tenure of the NAB chairman would be amended with extendable.

Despite a few dissenting opinions, the premier agreed with the AGP’s opinion that the new NAB chairperson would be appointed in consultation with the opposition leader in the National Assembly.
According to the present procedure, the president in consultation with the leader of House (the prime minister) and the leader of the opposition in the NA appoints the NAB chairman.

In case of a deadlock, the matter is referred to a parliamentary committee for consideration.
A senior official in the AGP office said the incumbent procedure would not be amended.

The premier has also agreed with the AGP's suggestion that the power to remove the NAB chief should rest with the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) instead of the president, who was the appointing authority.

Earlier, most of the participants were not in favour that the SJC should proceed against the NAB chairman over his misconduct.

It is learnt that the prime minister had also realised that the whole exercise would be controversial if the president would be given the authority to remove the NAB chief.

Senior lawyers are giving credit to the AGP for reasonable amendments to the NAO to ensure transparency in the process of accountability.

Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem told The Express Tribune that the government had agreed to give the option of bail in the NAO.

Now, an accountability court will have jurisdiction to grant bail to the accused. Likewise, the deadline regarding the conclusion of trials in NAB cases would be extended from 30 days to six months.
The law minister also said changes were being made to alter the mechanism for placing evidence during a trial.

Under the proposed amendments, audio and video evidence could be placed after ensuring their varsity.
Similarly, the salary of accountability judges will be equal to that of high court judges.

Retired high court judges could be appointed to accountability courts in consultation with the respective high court chief justices.

“Similarly, NAB will not proceed in tax matters, while no proceedings will be initiated against any public office holding on procedural lapse unless there was a loss of public exchequer,” the law minister said.

However, the government has decided against amending the NAB chairman’s power of arrest.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry announced that an ordinance would be promulgated on Wednesday (today) and the law ministry would send a summary to the prime minister for this purpose.

 

 

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