ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Thursday admonished the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) counsel saying on whose asking a reference was filed against former president Asif Ali Zardari if it did not have any evidence.
A two-member IHC bench, headed by Chief Justice (CJ) Athar Minallah, and comprising Justice Amir Farooq, was hearing the NAB appeals against Zardari’s acquittal in corruption references, local media reported.
The IHC CJ censured the NAB prosecutor general for what it called ‘wasting’ the court’s time by not coming prepared in the corruption references, filed against the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari.
Justice Amir Farooq said that seven years had passed since the bureau filed its first appeal. “Please, tell us whether the anti-corruption watchdog is interested in pursuing its appeal or not,” he remarked.
He said that that was precisely the reason why people accused the Bureau of indulging in ‘political engineering’. “NAB’s cases do not have any substance,” the judge remarked and asked that in these circumstances, was it not appropriate that it should be held responsible for wasting the court’s time. “NAB’s job is to hold ‘corrupt’ people accountable. Now it is time to hold it accountable,” Justice Farooq said, and made it clear that if the court had any ‘inkling’ that the Bureau’s intentions were bad, it would be left with no other option but to get to the bottom of the matter.
Chief Justice Minallah said NAB should now admit it had made a mistake by filing these references since it did not have proofs against the PPP Co-chairman. “And if indeed, there were no proofs, then the court will also take action against the former bureau chairman in whose tenure these cases had been filed,” he stated resolutely.
Justice Minallah asked whether the NAB officials had any idea what cost the country’s economy had to pay for their rash steps. “Truth of the matter is that the bureau had failed to satisfy the accountability court with respect to allegations against Zardari,” he added.
Justice Farooq asked NAB prosecutor to tell as to on whose orders it had filed the reference against the former president.
NAB Prosecutor Jahanzeb Bharwana, on the occasion, told the court that initially, an accountability court (AC) had awarded penalty to Zardari in a corruption case. “But the Supreme Court (SC) declared the court’s verdict null and void and referred the case again to the trial court,” he said, and added, “Unfortunately the anti-corruption watchdog has lost the record of references filed against the former president. It even does not have details of the reasons on which the SC had based its verdict.”
Justice Amir Farooq exclaimed in a state of complete disbelief that how come the apex court’s record could be lost. When the chief justice asked the prosecutor what did he think where the cases’ record could be, he replied that he had no idea? Disagreeing with the NAB prosecutor’s reply, Justice Farooq said it was not possible since all kind of record was jotted down in a register.
Thanking the IHC for giving the NAB ample time to submit its reply in the case, Bharwana asked the court to either dispose of the appeal or give him and his team more time so that the lost record could be retrieved. CJ Justice Minallah ordered NAB Prosecutor General to review the appeals and satisfy the court on the next date of hearing.