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July 26, 2020

Corruption cases cannot be wrapped up in 30 days, SC told

Top Story

 
July 26, 2020

Ag Sabah

ISLAMABAD: National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal has informed the apex court that wrapping up graft cases in a month is not possible as accountability courts are weighed down by a large volume—around 50 each—of cases.

According to Section 16 of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 NAB cases should be decided within 30 days. In his response submitted to the Supreme Court in a case pertaining to the formation of 120 new accountability courts on Saturday, Iqbal said the anti-graft body had on multiple occasions conveyed to the government that the accountability courts are unable to meet legal requirements due to a shortage of courts and judges.

According to the Supreme Court, there were around 1,226 pending graft references. Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed had asked the government to form 120 new accountability courts so all the pending NAB cases could be concluded within three months. The court also sought suggestions from the NAB chairman for the expeditious disposal of pending references.

In his reply to the court, Iqbal said proceedings on references had been delayed due to the number of accountability courts in the country. He believed the problem could be solved if more accountability courts were set up but the government had not been cooperating with the bureau on the issue. “The government’s lack of cooperation is a hurdle,” he said.

“Each accountability court is hearing almost 50 cases at a time. Due to excessive cases trials are delayed,” Iqbal wrote. The services of retired judges could be acquired to hear appeals if District and Sessions judges were not available, he added.

He cited miscellaneous petitions by accused and stay orders by high courts as also a reason for delay. High courts do not follow the apex court’s rules regarding bails, he lamented.

Iqbal said the anti-graft body also found it difficult to explain the meaning of politically-exposed personalities to international institutions due to “wrong” interpretation by courts. The top court had also barred the volunteer return of money, he added.