Empty promises and stubbornness have forced the Supreme Court to hold the country’s top accountability watchdog accountable.
The Supreme Court on Monday directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to vacate the girls hostel of Rawalpindi Medical College (RMC) by the end of August and to pay rent to the RMC authorities.
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was informed by a lawyer of the accountability bureau that NAB courts would be shifted to the newly constructed judicial complex this month.
He added that the authority had arranged alternative residence for the students.
Chief Justice Chaudhry asked the NAB counsel whether the Bureau had paid any rent to the medical college and sought a report on the issue by August 8.
The chief justice recalled that earlier, the police had established a checkpoint in a government school and the court had ordered the police to pay rent to the school and end the illegal occupation.
NAB has been illegally occupying the hostel since 1999 and has not even paid rent, as a result of which 600 girls students seeking hostel accommodation this year were denied boarding.
While those who could afford to live off campus have done so, a considerable number of students who could not move into private accommodation are virtually living in RMC’s servant quarters and study halls.
Despite several complaints and protests over the almost 13 years of illegal occupation, even assurances from multiple prime ministers were not enough to get the issue resolved.
Earlier this year, a NAB official flatly said, “We cannot vacate the building till we find a suitable place for our office,” implying that NAB had not even begun to try and address the problem till the Supreme Court took stern notice in June of the pathetic conditions that female students were enduring.
During the course of hearing, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja remarked that there should be a difference between NAB and illegal occupants. Further hearing was adjourned till Wednesday.
With additional information from APP
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2012.