Even after his dismissal from premiership, the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) implementation case continues to haunt former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.
While hearing the NRO case on Wednesday, Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali observed that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was trying to save the people responsible and apparently the country’s highest office (then prime minister Gilani’s office) seemed to be involved in corruption – and asked for references to be filed against him.
The former prime minister misused his authority by appointing convicted people – including “jail bird” Adnan A Khwaja – at top national offices, the five-judge bench of the apex court observed.
The court termed Riaz Sheikh’s appointment as the additional director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Khawaja’s appointment as the managing director of the Oil and Gas Development Corporation (OGDC) an “important case”.
During the NRO implementation case, the Supreme Court had directed NAB to take action against Sheikh, Khwaja and other officials of the Establishment Division, Interior ministry and FIA who were involved in the illegal contractual appointment of Khawaja and illegal reinstatement and promotion of Sheikh.
However, NAB prepared references against three bureaucrats and the court on Wednesday questioned how a reference could be filed against subordinates only instead of the person who appointed them and took advantage of these appointments (Gilani).
The bench maintained that the convicted people were given favour by Gilani, saying that, as a jail fellow, the former premier was fully aware of the fact that Khawaja was a convicted person.
Meanwhile, NAB Prosecutor General KK Agha informed the court that no reference had been filed against Gilani. Agha tried to convince the court that there was no criminal intent of those who were involved in the appointment of the NRO beneficiaries.
“It is not NAB’s mandate to comment on the evidential part of this case and rather it should send references against the prima facie responsible persons to the courts,” Justice Ejaz Ahmad Khan ordered.
However, the court allowed NAB to incorporate its own version in the references that there was no criminal intent of the officials including the former premier, and then let the trial court decide the matter.
In response, NAB sought more time from the court to reconsider its earlier stance in these matters in light of Supreme Court’s recent judgments in the Asghar Khan and Anita Turab cases. In these judgments the court made it clear that no official is bound to obey illegal orders of the high ups.
The hearing was adjourned till December 4.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2012.