Irked by NAB inertia: SC mulls shifting Ogra scam case to FIA

Published: January 23, 2014
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Apex court wants Nov 25, 2011 judgment implemented, but jurisdiction issues abound. PHOTO: AFP

Apex court wants Nov 25, 2011 judgment implemented, but jurisdiction issues abound. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: 

The Supreme Court is considering transferring the Rs82 billion Ogra scam case to the Federal Investigation Agency for further probe, if the National Accountability Bureau is not taking interest in implementing its November 25, 2011 judgment.

This was observed by a three-judge bench headed by Justice Jawwad S Khawaja as it resumed hearing on the implementation of its judgment regarding the illegal appointment of Tauqir Sadiq, the former chairman of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra), on Wednesday.

The apex court had struck down Sadiq’s appointment as Ogra chairman on November 25, 2011.  He had fled the country and NAB officials had brought him back to Pakistan in July last year.

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Sadiq was the main accused in the Rs82 billion scam and, according to an interim reference provided by NAB, had provided undue financial relief to firms and individuals and issued licences for CNG stations on bogus documents.

During the hearing, NAB Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry appeared before court and assured that he would personally look into the matter of implementing the judgment. NAB would take further action in its Executive Board’s next meeting, he added.

Upon this, Justice Khawaja asked him that the court’s concern is not only to implement its judgment but also to clear the reservations of NAB’s prosecutor-general KK Agha. The latter had claimed during Tuesday’s hearing that it was the exclusive right of the NAB chairman to initiate inquiry and file references of cases being investigated by the anti-graft body and the Supreme Court could not interfere.

The judge on Wednesday said the court would look into the NAB prosecutor-general’s concerns and decide as per the law.

However, Qamar Zaman stated that the Supreme Court of Pakistan had the authority to monitor the investigation of pending NAB cases. He added that he personally had no objection and NAB would implement the court’s judgment in letter and spirit.

Justice Khawaja observed that they respect his opinion but the court will answer the important questions raised by KK Agha about the powers of the body’s chairman on the last day of hearing.

However, after the break and after the NAB chairman left, Agha again insisted that the court could only exercise its jurisdiction in limited circumstances regarding NAB’s investigations.

On this, the court issued a notice to the Attorney General for Pakistan to assist in deciding the court’s jurisdiction, asking him to appear in court today (Friday). The bench also asked the NAB prosecutor-general to argue his stance.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2014.

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