Mr Ashraf, who has only one more week to go in the office of prime minister, had written the letter to the chief justice on Friday, requesting transfer of the investigation from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to a commission. - File photo
Mr Ashraf, who has only one more week to go in the office of prime minister, had written the letter to the chief justice on Friday, requesting transfer of the investigation from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to a commission. - File photo

ISLAMABAD: Acceding instantly to a letter by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, the Supreme Court decided to start examining his request on Monday to appoint a judicial commission, headed by Federal Tax Ombudsman Dr Shoaib Suddle, to investigate the Rs22 billion rental power projects (RPPs) scam.

After treating the letter as a civil miscellaneous application, its hearing was fixed before a bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

Mr Ashraf, who has only one more week to go in the office of prime minister, had written the letter to the chief justice on Friday, requesting transfer of the investigation from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to a commission.

Dr Suddle had earlier investigated the Rs54bn Nato container scam and a financial dispute between Dr Arsalan Iftikhar, son of the chief justice, and property tycoon Malik Riaz.

The court office issued a notice to Prime Minister Ashraf either to appear in person or through a counsel who had been appearing on his behalf in earlier proceedings.

Advocate Waseem Sajjad is expected to represent the prime minister since he had been pursuing a review petition against the March 30, 2012, overarching verdict of holding the government’s RPP plan as non-transparent.

However, the prime minister had withdrawn the case on Jan 21.

Sources said that the step had been taken because of apprehensions that adverse observations or an explicit order might compromise the situation of the prime minister.

On Jan 15, the court ordered NAB to get approved corruption references and arrest all the accused, including the prime minister.

With general election around the corner, a perceived smear campaign against the prime minister pushed him to write the letter suggesting that reassigning the probe to the commission would quell allegations that the government was trying to influence the investigation.

“With the NAB inquiry getting unduly prolonged and mired in all sorts of controversies, I feel hurt when my reputation and that of my family is continually tarnished by the subjective perception that I was in any way instrumental in not letting NAB conduct the investigation in a dispassionate, objective and credible manner,” he said in the letter.

The prime minister also said the apex court at times had expressed doubts on the competence, fairness and professionalism of NAB.

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