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ISLAMABAD: The state of affairs in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) came under serious scrutiny when two different benches of the Supreme Court expressed on Wednesday disappointment over what they said extreme form of maladministration in the bureau.

NAB Chairman Chaudhry Qamar Zaman was present in the courtroom when matters relating to the bureau were taken up by the benches which expressed serious doubts over the efficiency and performance of the institution.

In the first case, a three-judge bench headed by Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja had summoned the NAB chief over the bureau’s failure to arrest a proclaimed offender for his alleged role in a land scam in Patoki area of Kasur district in Punjab.

In the second case, a bench headed by Justice Amir Hani Muslim was critical of what the court believed misusing of NAO (National Accountability Ordinance) by closing a corruption inquiry against six officers of revenue and administration departments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who had allegedly misappropriated the compensation money meant for the victims of a 2006 bomb blast in D.I. Khan.

The NAB chief informed the bench headed by Justice Khawaja that when he had assumed the office in Oct 2013, the bureau was facing acute shortage of human resource, lack of efficiency and financial constraints. He sought time to study the matter at hand.

But the court regretted that despite having Rs6 billion in its kitty, NAB had failed to arrest a proclaimed offender for the past four years.

The case commenced when the court took up a bail application of Fayyaz Ahmed Khan, an accountant who was arrested by NAB on Oct 14, 2013, although the three principal accused land developers and real brothers – Mohammad Amin, Mohammad Jameel and Mohammad Hameed – were declared proclaimed offenders by an accountability court in Lahore in 2014.

Jameel and Hameed were arrested during the pendency of the case, but Amin is still at large.

The developers had acquired a sizeable land in Patoki in 2007 for Rs80 million to develop Gulshan Dost Mohammad Housing Scheme. A number of people who purchased plots in the housing scheme approached NAB when they failed to get these despite making payments.

NAB authorised an inquiry against the developers on March 21, 2011 and moved a corruption reference against them on Dec 26, 2013.

On Tuesday, the court had also taken notice of a Feb 2 noting by investigating officer (IO) Rai Nasir Iqbal on the case files acknowledging that he was under severe pressure because accused Fayyaz Ahmed and his counsel Barrister Khurram had allegedly conveyed a message that they would get him arrested by the apex court as the counsel allegedly had contacts with judges of the higher judiciary.

The court observed that the IO had admitted that the message had been conveyed to him through Amjad Majeed Olak, Additional Director of NAB, though his name was not mentioned in the case diaries. The IO claimed that he had informed his superiors about the development but nothing was on record to indicate that this was done while NAB Deputy Chairman retired Admiral Saeed Ahmed Sargana stated that he was not aware of any such information.

“This represents serious maladministration and want of proper procedures and supervision within NAB,” the court regretted in its Tuesday order.

The court observed that even a cursory examination of initial few pages of the case diaries showed that no effort had been made to interrogate or apprehend the accused. “We are very concerned that an investigating officer of NAB should not be able to deal with or tackle threats or perceived threats because if this is indeed the case he should be dealt with appropriately by NAB authorities,” the court regretted.

“Since Amin has still not been apprehended, there appears to be reason to believe that keeping in view the case diaries there might have been assistance prima facie from within NAB to enable Amin and his two brothers Jameel and Hameed (now under arrest), to evade arrest,” the court said, adding that no property belonging to Amin had been attached.

In addition, the court regretted, seven delinquent NAB officers who had failed to arrest the absconder were still working in NAB and apparently no disciplinary proceedings were being pursued against them.

“This state of affairs is not satisfactory at all. The court has tried its level best to try and find out if some effective procedures are in place within NAB which can be considered as sufficient to ensure diligence and efficiency in pursuing those in respect of whom NAO was promulgated,” the court said on Wednesday.

In the second case, the bench headed by Justice Muslim was shocked to learn that inquiries against the six officers of KP’s revenue and administration departments had been closed by invoking Section 25A of NAO by the NAB’s provincial director general when such authority could only be exercised by the bureau chairman. The court ordered NAB to submit by Feb 20 the list of cases where inquiries were closed under the NAO provision.

The court also ordered the six officers, including Mohsin Shah, Qaiser Naz, Azizullah Mehsud, Asadullah and Mohammad Abbas, to appear before it on Feb 20 and asked the KP advocate general to explain how these officers were reinstated in their jobs, although they had been held responsible for misappropriating the compensation money meant for the legal heirs of those who had lost their lives in the bomb blast.

Published in Dawn February 19th , 2015

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