SC summons NAB prosecutor general

ISLAMABAD: Expressing disappointment over the depressing state of affairs in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the Supreme Court on Thursday summoned its prosecutor general and granted interim bail to two contractors detained over the past nine months without any judicial remand.

The NAB’s Prosecutor General Waqas Qadeer Dar was directed to appear before a two-judge bench headed by Justice Jawwad S Khawaja on Friday in the next hearing of bail petitions of two contractors.

He was asked to submit “quantitative and qualitative” data about delinquent officers working in the bureau since 2010, number of references filed against suspects and their outcome.

Take a look: NAB affairs come under scrutiny at Supreme Court

The court was inclined to summon NAB Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry but on the request of Deputy Prosecutor General Azam Khan decided to call the prosecutor general after taking exception to a NAB report which, according to the court, was incomplete and unsatisfactory, providing perfunctory details which did not contain required data, including the amount involved, investigations, filing of references and conclusions of trials etc.

The report also did not mention whether individuals against whom corruption references were filed were found guilty or acquitted, the court observed.

“The table provided in the report is of no help to us and prima facie it appears that full facts are not given deliberately,” Justice Khawaja said.

The court called Deputy Attorney General Sajid Ilyas Bhatti and asked him to help it by reading its orders of March 27, in which the court had deplored that no effective control or mechanism was in place in the NAB to check wrongdoings being committed by its delinquent officials and that mismanagement and corruption were rampant in bureau.

The court observed that the bureau was not complying with its orders and directives. “We are sending reminders after reminders but nothing is happening,” Justice Khawaja said, adding that unending chain of reminders was not possible for the court.

The court also took notice of keeping contractors Mohammad Asghar Awan and Manzoor Ahmed Ghouri behind the bars since July 9, 2014 without any court orders on the ground that they were wanted in a corruption reference.

They were awarded contracts worth Rs100 million during the era of the previous coalition government of the Awami National Party and the PPP in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The contracts were about supply of 700 KVA electric generators to Waziristan, Bannu and Tank and uniforms to schools run by the Workers’ Welfare Board in the province.

The contractors were accused of gaining pecuniary benefits and arrested by the bureau on June 2, 2014. The inquiry against them progressed to the investigation stage but no reference was filed against them.

They filed bail petitions in the apex court where they were represented by Advocate Malik Akhtar Nawaz.

On Jan 26, 2015, an accountability court of Peshawar did not extend judicial remand of the contractors on the assurance of a senior prosecutor of the NAB that there was no likelihood of the filing of any reference against them.

Their counsel told the apex court that the two were still in prison and the court declared it illegal confinement.

The counsel said that the due amount payable to them for the supply of goods had been withheld and even their personal and family bank accounts had been frozen.

The court deplored that neither the diaries of the cases against the contractors had been produced by the NAB nor the investigating officer was available.

“Therefore there is no good reason for keeping them behind the bars,” the court said, adding that Article 9 of the constitution made it clear that no person could be deprived of life and liberty unless in accordance with the law.

“Since there is no judicial order pursuant to which the petitioners can be kept in custody, we allow interim bail to them after furnishing bail bond of Rs1 million with two sureties of the same amount to the satisfaction of the Peshawar accountability court, the Supreme Court said.

The petitioners will appear before the apex court on April 20 when the NAB will produce the investigating officer and the case diaries.

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