SC takes suo motu notice: Can NAB chief make appointments above Constitution?

August 08, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Friday took suo motu notice of the powers exercised by the Chairman National Accountability Bureau Justice Javed Iqbal to appoint director generals in the bureau in...

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Friday took suo motu notice of the powers exercised by the Chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Justice (R) Javed Iqbal to appoint director generals in the bureau in the absence of relevant rules and regulations.

A two-member bench of the apex court – comprising Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Qazi Faez Isa – issued a written order on a petition filed by one Muhammad Nadeem seeking post-arrest bail in a case registered against him by the Aabpara Police Station. It was alleged that the petitioner impersonated himself as Irfan Naeem Mangi, DG NAB Rawalpindi, and asked for undue favors on phone.

To a query, the court was informed that DG NAB Rawalpindi Irfan Naeem Mangi had been appointed by the chairman NAB in exercise of powers conferred on him under Section 28 (g) of the National Accountability Bureau Ordinance 1999.

The ordinance says the chairman NAB shall not be required to consult the Federal Public Service Commission for making appointments on matters relating to qualifications for such appointments and method of their recruitment and the qualifications for appointments and methods of recruitments shall be such as he may by rules prescribe,” says the written order of the court.

The court noted that prima facie such powers were to be exercised in the manner as provided for under the Ordinance of 1999, which was promulgated on November 16, 1999 and the chairman NAB was required to make rules for carrying out the purposes of the Ordinance of 1999.

“But we have been informed that no such rules have been made to date,” the court noted and directed the NAB prosecutor general to satisfy it on the next date of hearing as to whether the subordinate legislation, the mandate of the Constitution under Articles 242 read with Article 240 could be bypassed in making such appointments.

The court directed its office to prepare a separate file as suo motu and fixed the matter for consideration of that point. Since the point needs interpretation of the Constitution and the law, a notice be issued to the attorney general for Pakistan to assist it,” the court courted further noted down in its order.

The court also converted the petition into an appeal and allowed admitting the bail subject to furnishing of bail bonds in the sum of Rs10,00,000/ (one million) with one solvent surety in the like amount to the satisfaction of the trial court.

The court held that any observation in this order was of tentative nature and the trial court shall proceed with the matter in accordance with the law without being influenced. “In case of any abuse or misuse of concession of bail by the petitioner, the trial court is at liberty to cancel the bail,” the court noted in the written order.

The court noted that earlier the petitioner was twice extended bail on the ground of lack of proper investigation and evidence and same was the position in the case in hand. The court observed that the prosecution had not learnt from the earlier lapses, rather it aggravated perception of the incompetence of the officers concerned.

During the course of hearing held the other day in this case, the qualification of DG NAB Rawalpindi came to surface. To a query, he had told the court that he was an engineer by profession and was drawing a salary of Rs420,000 per month.

When Justice Qazi Faez Isa asked Mangi whether he possessed any required experience in criminal cases, he replied in the negative. Mangi was part of the joint investigation team ordered by Supreme Court to probe former premier Nawaz Sharif’s assets in the Panama Papers case. The bench then wondered as to how an engineer was sitting at such an important position in the bureau.

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