Friday June 14, 2024

SC calls NAB facilitator of corruption

By Sohail Khan
January 03, 2017

Justice Azmat Saeed questions under which law NAB makes recoveries; Justice Ameer Hani Muslim observes plea bargain being misused; govt given a week to put up reply on issue

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday observed that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is a facilitator of corruption and sought within a week the view of the government on voluntary return and plea bargain.

A two-member bench of the apex court comprising Justice Ameer Hani Muslim and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed resumed hearing in a suo moto case regarding voluntary return in NAB cases.

On September 8, former Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali had taken suo moto notice on a note of the registrar, containing details of observations of a two-member bench passed in Civil Appeal No 82-K of 2015. It had observed that after voluntary return, the accused goes scot free without any stigma. During the course of hearing on Monday, the court inquired from the attorney general as to what the government’s stance on the voluntary return was.

Attorney General Ashter Ausaf replied that the issue is in the Upper House of parliament (Senate). At this, Justice Hani Muslim remarked let the Senate and National Assembly do their job and asked him to tell the court about the government’s stance on VR and plea bargain. However, the attorney general sought one week for it.

The court observed that NAB's law of voluntary return was wrong. Justice Azmat Saeed remarked whether NAB has become the department of only recoveries. He questioned under which law the NAB had made recoveries. He said in fact entering into VR was like accepting a crime. 

He further said that one year ago, they had stated that the NAB law of VR was not right. He said that a person who makes fraud of Rs250 is sent to jail under the Anti-Corruption Act but if a person makes corruption of Rs250 million, then he goes free after VR.

Justice Ameer Hani Muslim observed that people have reservations on the plea bargain, adding that in some cases, VR is worse than plea bargain as after taking money, the accused are released. He said plea bargain law was being misused. Whether NAB, FIA and Anti-Corruption laws are the same or not, he questioned.

Justice Saeed said that the purpose of VR was something but the NAB writes letters to accused to enter into voluntary return. He said NAB should give advertisements in newspapers for the accused to enter into VRs.

Justice Ameer Hani Muslim remarked that the NAB law of VR was not right, adding the executive could not use the powers of the court. Appearing on notice, Prosecutor General NAB Waqas Qadeer Dar submitted that the government had written a letter to NAB for taking action against a defaulter of electricity bill. 

He contended that NAB did not make the VR law itself and they are using this provision in accordance with the National Accountability Ordinance 1999. He said that when the NABofficials have arrested a big gun in Balochistan (Finance Secretary Mushtaq Raisani), uproar was raised in the media and it was reported that Rs40 billion were recovered from his home. He said that the total budget of Balochistan was not Rs40 billion. Meanwhile, the court adjourned the hearing for two weeks.