Supreme Court suspends NAB references against ex-government officers -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Supreme Court suspends NAB references against ex-government officers

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court suspended on Tuesday proceedings in accountability courts on references moved by the National Accountability Bureau against former government officers for their role in the appointments of Adnan A. Khwaja and Ahmed Riaz.

NAB’s prosecutor general K.K. Agha informed a three-judge bench hearing the NRO implementation case that NAB had filed references against Ismail Qureshi and Khalid Ikhlaq Jillani for their role in the appointment of Mr Khwaja as managing director of the OGDCL on Sept 7, 2010, and against former joint secretary of interior ministry Ehsan Raja for his role in the appointment of Ahmed Riaz Sheikh as additional director general of FIA.

On Nov 14, the Supreme Court discharged contempt charges against Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf after the government had written a letter to the Swiss authorities to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari, but it expressed its dismay over NAB’s attempt to absolve former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani of the charge of appointing Mr Khwaja, a convict and NRO beneficiary, as managing director.

The former prime minister, who was disqualified by the apex court for not implementing the NRO verdict, is accused of issuing verbal orders to appoint his jail buddy (Mr Khwaja) to the lucrative post.

Mr Agha informed the court that NAB was summoning Mr Gilani to get his perspective on the appointment but he emphasised that the constant monitoring of NAB cases by the court was putting pressure on the investigation officers. “In my view, such hearing is adversely affecting the abilities of the officers to investigate,” he said.

Advocate Abdul Basit, representing Mr Sheikh, said since his client had already undergone the punishment his case should be consigned to record. Ali Zafar, the counsel for Mr Qureshi and Mr Jillani, argued that the person (former prime minister) who had appointed Mr Khwaja and the beneficiary (Mr Khwaja) had been exonerated from the criminal liability by NAB, but the honest government servants who had only mechanically notified the appointment in pursuance of the orders of the prime minister were being made liable and references had been filed against them.

The counsel referred to a statement the NAB’s prosecutor general had made during the last hearing that no case was made out against Mr Qureshi and Mr Jillani. However, in contradiction to the earlier statement, NAB admitted that it had filed the reference only because of pressure from the court, Mr Zafar said, adding that the reference had not been filed on the basis of any evidence but because of the perceived pressure from the court.

He requested the court to suspend the reference.

“It is not for the court to nominate any person to prosecute and put pressure on the investigating agency,” the bench observed and suspended the proceedings on the references.