A day after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chief expressed inability to take action in the Dr Arslan Iftikhar case, the legal counsel for the man behind the accusations on Friday insisted that the bureau can investigate the financial impropriety case.
“I am sure that either he (misunderstood) or the statement he gave yesterday that NAB cannot investigate this case, is not his own,” said Advocate Zahid Bukhari, counsel for real estate tycoon Malik Riaz.
Addressing the media, Bukhari added that “proper legal assistance” was not provided to NAB Chairman Admiral (retd) Fasih Bokhari, which resulted in such a statement. He said that according to Section 9 and 18 of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), 1999, NAB can investigate such cases.
Section 9 of the NAO which relates to corruption and corrupt practices committed by a holder of public office or any other person is cognizable under the NAB ordinance. Section 18 (cognizance of offence) says the Accountability Court can only take cognizance of any offence upon a reference by the chairman.
Riaz’s counsel said that Attorney General of Pakistan Irfan Qadir had quoted examples of cases where NAB had, in the past, investigated private cases as well.
“However, I do not demand that they should, but you should read Section 9 and Section 18 and then decide,” he added. Bukhari further said that it will be the attorney general’s prerogative to decide who investigates the case.
Malik Riaz has accused Arsalan Iftikhar, son of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, of receiving Rs340 million from him on the promise of getting cases pending in the Supreme Court settled in his favour.
During the proceedings of a suo motu case on the issue, the Supreme Court in its short order directed Attorney General Irfan Qadir to proceed according to the law and take required action against business tycoon Malik Riaz, his son-in-law Salman and the chief justice’s son Arsalan Iftikhar.
Attorney General Irfan Qadir told the court that the case came under the ambit of Section 18 (4) of the NAB Ordinance.
However, NAB chief Admiral (retd) Fasih Bokhari had said that the case did not fall under the purview of the bureau. “The Arsalan Iftikhar case is between two individuals and it has no financial implications on the national exchequer. It seems that it does not come under the NAB Ordinance, 1999,” he said.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 16th, 2012.