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February 10, 2018

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NAB authorised to probe Musharraf assets: IHC

ISLAMABAD: A division bench of the Islamabad High Court has declared that National Accountability Bureau has the jurisdiction to investigate General (retd) Pervez Musharraf for his assets beyond known sources of income, corruption and corrupt practices.

The IHC division bench comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb declared a NAB letter dated April 25, 2013 as illegal that the anti-graft body had written to complainant Inamul Rahiem advocate informing him that the Bureau cannot initiate investigation proceedings against Musharraf for want of jurisdiction. Rahiem had filed a complaint before NAB seeking investigation into Musharraf’s assets inside and outside the country as these were beyond his known sources of income. After NAB returned his application, he filed a petition before the IHC.

The IHC division bench decided this petition and issued an order declaring: "The Bureau is vested with the power and jurisdiction to consider the complaint of the petitioner and after such consideration, it is of the opinion that an offence under the Ordinance of 1999 is prima facie made out, then it will become a duty of the NAB to proceed to inquire, investigate and take all other steps mandated under the Ordinance of 1999. Across the board accountability is an onerous statutory obligation of the Bureau under the mandate of the Ordinance of 1999. Public trust and confidence is the hallmark of effective and result oriented accountability. It is the duty of the Bureau to consider every information or complaint laid before it by a citizen and then to fulfill its statuary obligations by proceeding under the Ordinance of 1999 in a fair and transparent manner without fear or favour."

The petitioner's counsel, Laiq Khan Swati, had contended that Musharraf, besides having served in the Pakistan Army, had also held the public office of the President of Pakistan and, therefore, he was not immune from being accountable under the National Accountability Ordinance. A legal counsel appeared before the court on behalf of Musharraf and requested the court that he may be given audience. The court informed him that neither could his power of attorney “be entertained nor could he be heard because Musharraf has been declared a proclaimed offender by the competent courts of Pakistan”.

The IHC bench noted that Musharraf had served as the tenth President of Pakistan. He resigned as the Chief of Army Staff in November, 2007 but continued to hold the constitutional post of the President. “A short question is involved for our consideration in the instant petition that whether the NAB has correctly interpreted the provisions of National Accountability Ordinance by concluding that it has no jurisdiction to inquire into or to investigate the alleged offences of corruption or corrupt practices against General Musharraf,” it said

The bench said Musharraf is amenable to be proceeded under the Ordinance of 1999 and thus investigated, tried or convicted because of two eventualities; firstly, for having held the Constitutional post of the President of Pakistan and secondly, clause (vi) of section 5(m) of the Ordinance of 1999 is attracted because he had resigned and stands retired from the Armed Forces of Pakistan. The bench further said: "We are satisfied that the Bureau has indeed erred in misinterpreting the provisions of the Ordinance of 1999 by refusing to consider and entertain the complaint, which had been filed by the petitioner.”

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