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August 21, 2018

Malicious media campaigns: Even if accused is cleared, his reputation is ruined, says CJP

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August 21, 2018

LAHORE: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday came down hard on the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) officials for leaking information about the under-investigation people to the media, resulting in malicious media campaigns against them.

The CJP remarked that the anti-graft body did not have the authority to declare someone guilty until the charges are proved against him. “NAB has no right to ridicule anyone,” Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar reminded NAB's Prosecutor General Syed Asghar Haider while hearing a case here at the Supreme Court, Lahore Registry.

The CJP said the court got proof that the bureau treated people in an unjust manner without having any evidence against them. He said the bureau should not consider every other person a thief and refrain from maligning them. If people, later on, come out clean of the charges levelled against them, their reputation would be ruined. This practice would keep foreign investors away from bringing their money to Pakistan.

He observed that this practice of the anti-corruption watchdog would discourage foreign investors. “Do you want to drive out foreign investors from the country?” the chief justice asked the prosecutor general.

Adding to this, Justice Ijazul Ahsan said that before a person is served notice, the news is run on television. "People summoned by the NAB come to know about summons through the media in most cases,” the chief justice said and added, “we cannot allow this kind of accountability.”

The chief justice said issuance of summons should not be disclosed and inquiry should be launched against those exchanging information regarding investigation. While speaking about the NAB and the judiciary, Justice Nisar said the bureau did not have a good name in the courts but now it was respected there.

Chief Justice Nisar noted that there was consideration at the time of the chairman’s appointment that a retired judge, if appointed, could save the bureau from the wrath of the Supreme Court.

The chief justice remarked that the proceedings of the bureau should not be leaked to the media at any cost. Prosecutor General Asghar Haider stated that NAB Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal had introduced a process of strict internal accountability. He said some individuals might be involved in such practices, but the institution, under the chairmanship of Javed Iqbal, had been acting strictly in accordance with the law.

Justice Ahsan observed that the practice of scandalizing people was done at the level of investigating officers of the bureau. The chief justice directed the NAB chairman to meet him in his chamber, along with the prosecutor general next Monday to discuss the issue.

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