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January 21, 2019

Accountability, special courts burdened with huge backlog

Top Story

January 21, 2019

ISLAMABAD: As the country’s top corruption watchdog begins probing fake accounts scam referred by the Supreme Court (SC), the bureau is witnessing a record high backlog of corruption cases pending with some two dozen accountability courts.

Some 24 accountability courts and around a dozen superior courts were handling over 1,210 references involving more than Rs1,070 billion embezzled by around 11,876 accused, revealed official statistics of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). The apex court ordered NAB to wrap up investigations into fake accounts case in two months.

Seven accountability courts are dealing with record number of 270 cases in Punjab with four courts each in Lahore and Rawalpindi while one court is handling 60 cases pending in Multan, official figures continued to reveal. Two accountability courts are dealing with around 69 cases in Islamabad while an accountability court is dealing some 39 cases in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Six accountability courts are dealing with around 345 references in Sindh where four courts are operating in Karachi and one each in Sukkur and Hyderabad. There are two accountability courts in Balochistan which are now hearing around 67 cases. More than 249 cases are being pleaded in four accountability courts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, revealed the official figures exclusively obtained by Geo News. Some 81 prosecutors are handling over 1,210 references in different courts while some 750 investigation/inquiry officers (BPS-16-BPS-18) have been engaged in some 8,120 investigation/inquiries across the country.

The accountability courts and Lahore High Court, Sindh High Court, Peshawar High Court, Islamabad High Court and SC dealt with 733 references filed during the period of 2015 to 2017. Some 238 references were filed with the aforementioned courts in 2015, 320 in 2016 and 175 references were heard in these courts in 2017. As many as 141 references were decided in favour of NAB, which is quite low in ratio during this period. Some 45 of total 238 favored in NAB in 2015, 40 of total 320 references were decided in favour of NAB in 2016 and 56 of total 175 references were decided in favour of NAB in 2017, revealed the official figures.

In addition to it, around 18 special anti-corruption courts handling 9,500 cases, the highest number of cases pending with these special courts in the country’s history, stated the official figures collected from Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan. As many as 46,000 cases are pending with some 36 banking courts across the country, official figures continued to reveal.

Five banking courts are operating in Karachi, six in Lahore, two in Hyderabad; two banking courts each in Gujranwala, Peshawar, Quetta and Bahawalpur are operating while one banking court is taking up cases related to money laundering in Islamabad.

Around 4,000 cases are being pleaded in three banking courts of Rawalpindi, Sukkur and Faisalabad, added the official figures. Some 946 cases are pending with five special courts (taxation & anti-smuggling) across the country accordingly. Some 43,552 of total 44,315 complaints were handled by NAB across the country from Oct 2017 to September 2018, official figures stated that it is the highest number of complaints top corruption watchdog ever witnessed in past 12 months. Some 877 inquiries and 227 investigations were authorised by NAB Chairman Justice (R) Javed Iqbal during this period. NAB chairman also authorised filing of 440 references where 80 accused were convicted during last year.

Official figures continued to reveal that 503 arrests were also made during this period. Some 9,000 complaints were filed with Lahore NAB, over 7,000 with Karachi NAB, 41, 000 with Peshawar NAB, 1,450 with Balochistan (NAB), 7,841 with Rawalpindi, 3, 500 with Multan and 6,000 with Sukkur NAB and rest of the complaints were lodged with NAB headquarters, according to official figures collected from all its regional offices. Some 7,000 concluded, 50 references were filed by Rawalpindi NAB and recovered Rs218 million. 179 mega corruption cases where 105 references have been concluded, NAB officially claimed. The anti-graft watchdog has recovered Rs296 billion since its inception in 1999, NAB added.

In 2017, some 27,096 complaints were filed with NAB. As many as 6,782 complaints were lodged with Lahore NAB, 5, 093 with Karachi NAB, 872 Balochistan NAB, 3, 432 with Rawalpindi NAB, 2,218 Multan NAB, 4,845 complaints were lodged with in Sukkur NAB in 2017. As many as 6,103 writ-petitions (WPs) were filed in high courts from 2015-17. Decisions of 3,713 WPs went in favour of NAB during this period. 466 (186 in 2015, 117 in 2016 & 143 in 2017) appeals filed in high courts. 136 WPs were decided in favour of NAB during this period. Appeals of 340 cases (221 in 2015, 92 in 2016 & 27 in 2017) were filed in the apex court by NAB from 2015-17. As many as 22 appeals were decided in favour of NAB during this period. 252 plea bargains were done during this period (2015-17), revealed the figures.

The estimated strength of NAB is of around 2,977 employees (BS-1 to BS-22) at the moment, which is reasonably less as NAB officials said. The sanction posts for BS-21 officers are eight in total but currently there are five officers named Zahir Shah, DG Operations, Brig (R) Farooq Naser Awan, DG Sindh, Husnain Ahmad, DG NAB Headquarters and Justice (R) Asghar Haider, Prosecutor General NAB and Add PG NAB Akbar Tarrar while post of Deputy NAB chairman goes vacant and Abid Javed, DG NAB Balochistan, is serving BS-22 officer of the Pakistan Administrative Services, they revealed. Some six additional/deputy prosecutor generals are also serving NAB accordingly. Around a dozen NAB officers were also facing inquiries as well.

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