President Asif Ali Zardari approved the dismissal of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman Admiral (retd) Fasih Bokhari. Bokhari’s appointment as chief of the country’s top accountability body was declared null and void by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on May 28 this year.
The presidential approval came hours after Bokhari filed for early hearing of his review petition before the apex court against his dismissal orders.
“Grave miscarriage of justice would occasion in case the order under review is not suspended,” maintained Bokhari in his petition.
It was argued in the application that the principle of locus poenitentiae (an opportunity to withdraw from an inchoate obligation before it is complete) has been ignored as Bokhari, working as the NAB chairman, completed almost half of his tenure with no other contender having bypassed, superseded or affected. Therefore, he alone would suffer if the dismissal orders are not suspended, the application stated.
Bokhari pleaded before the court that in the interest of justice, his review petition be taken up early, preferably on July 22, 2013.
“In case the impugned order is effectuated, the review petition would become infructuous, thereby defeating the constitutional fundamental right of the petitioner,” the application stated.
Bokhari’s counsel, Sardar Latif Khosa, maintained in the application that he (Bokhari) is entitled to have his review petition decided on merit, and in accordance with the law, as given under Article 10-A of the constitution.
The former NAB chairman said that he was confident of his review petition which was based on solid and legal factual plane.
A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court while declaring Bokhari’s appointment as NAB chief illegal had said that the criterion for appointing someone for the position was not in accordance with Rule 6(i) of the National Accountability Ordinance 1999.
Khosa, in the review petition maintained that a new dimension had been added in the judicial approach following the July 31, 2009 judgment that had declared the appointment of judges unconstitutional through a judicial verdict. The decision was renounced by the Pakistan Bar Council then through various resolutions. Bokhari’s counsel cited the case to argue against the removal of the former NAB chairman from office through a judicial verdict, and stated that the procedure for removing the NAB chairman was the same as that of removing a high court judge.
The lawyer added that the president could only remove the NAB chairman once he was appointed to the post.
The review petition maintained that constitutionally, appointments made by the president either under the law or the constitution was not answerable to the Supreme Court and therefore, the court’s impugned order was passed in a matter regarding which the court had no jurisdiction.
Earlier, former leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had challenged Bokhari’s appointment in the Supreme Court on October 22, 2011.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2013.