Bail chances for bureaucrats brighten after judiciary’s decisions against NAB

December 15, 2019

Mian Nawaz Sharif got bail in two convictions, Shahbaz Sharif was arrested by NAB in two corruption cases, but has been bailed out in both the cases.

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ISLAMABAD: Politicians in particular have started getting relief from the superior judiciary after the courts have started seriously questioning the NAB’s disputed use of its authority amid hopes that the senior bureaucrats -- both serving and retired -- languishing in jails for months and years without any conviction will also start getting justice.

Sources in the bureaucracy point out that barring few all the politicians have started getting relief from the judicial process against the NAB actions, but most of the bureaucrats are still languishing in prisons in the same cases.

Mian Nawaz Sharif got bail in two convictions, Shahbaz Sharif was arrested by NAB in two corruption cases, but has been bailed out in both the cases. Maryam Nawaz was jailed twice, firstly following her conviction in the Avenfield case and later during the NAB probe into an alleged money laundering case. However, in both the cases she has been bailed out. Others like Asif Ali Zardari, Aleem Khan, Sibtain Khan, Agha Sirajuddin, Mian Nauman etc who were arrested by NAB in different corruption cases have also been bailed out.

However the likes of Fawad Hasan Fawad, Ahad Cheema, Waseem Ajmal, Suleman Ghani, Rao Manzar Hayat -- all senior DMG Officers -- are still behind the bars. Waseem Ajmal though bailed out earlier, has been again arrested in another case by the NAB. These sources said that Fawad Hasan and Ahad Cheema are behind the bars for over one and half year without any conviction. Cheema will complete two years in jail in the next couple of months time. One reason, cited by a serving officer for such a situation for bureaucrats, is that these bureaucrats generally can’t afford to have very expensive legal assistance which in the NAB cases can cost scores of millions of rupees.

It is also said that unlike politicians, the bureaucrats do not have an elaborate social and political support system owing to which they are left in the lurch. There are cases where the politicians get bail while the bureaucrats despite being charged in the same references as co-accused still remain in the jail only because of the quality of legal assistance and owing to the fact that politicians enjoy more importance in the media and politics. It is seen that in many cases like Ashiana where courts demolished the main cases, the NAB has roped in these officers in “assets beyond means” case, which is a very vague charge and wherein NAB allegedly counts the entire extended family assets as accused officers “benami assets” leaving him to prove it otherwise in protracted trial process.

Strangely, the bureaucrats explain, the NAB accused are denied the “statutory bail” as reflected in Criminal Procedure Code facility which is granted by law to all the accused in criminal cases. The CrPC makes it mandatory for courts to grant bail to accused if their trial is not completed within one year. But the draconian NAB law ousts this concession available to all other accused in criminal cases. However, some recent decisions of the superior judiciary have brought great hopes for the bureaucrats languishing in jails without any conviction.

One such judgment was handed down by the Islamabad High Court while accepting former MD PSO’s bail application in the LNG Terminal case. In the same case, the NAB prosecutor while referring to the draconian NAB law argued that the bail application of ex-MD PSO be rejected because the NAB law does not contain the bail provision. To this, the court said: “The powers to arrest provided under the Ordinance of 1999 are not unfettered nor can they be exercised mechanically and in an arbitrary manner. The ouster of the bail provisions in the ordinance does not deprive the petitioner or any other accused of the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights such an inviolability of dignity and freedom of movement provided under Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution, respectively.”

The court also noted that it is implicit in Article 14 that an arbitrary arrest, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, could amount to torturing an accused for extraneous reasons. A retired NAB officer said while talking to The News that the Bureau takes every action strictly according to law. He said the NAB has no personal enmity with anyone, there is no aggression and everything happens according to the rules. The retired officer said all the officers in the NAB work honestly. He said a NAB officer can drag any matter if he indulges in personal vendetta, but nothing of this sort happens in the Bureau. The NAB retired officer said priority is being given to recover the looted money after logical conclusion of mega corruption cases. He said excellent results of NAB’s awareness, prevention and enforcement policy have already started pouring in as prestigious national and international institutions including Transparency International, Pildat, Mashal Pakistan and International Economic Forum lauded NAB’s corruption elimination efforts. According to Gillani and Gallup Survey, he said, 59 percent people expressed confidence over NAB as the Bureau believes in ensuring self-accountability, transparency and the implementation of law.

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