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ISLAMABAD: After the change of command at the Supreme Court, senior puisne judge Justice Mian Saqib Nisar expressed on Thursday the judiciary’s determination to continue to act as a bulwark against the menace of corruption.

He said that neither ignominy would come from the court against any individual or institution before reaching a final conclusion about their fault on the basis of concrete evidence and solid proof nor would the court give its opinion against them halfway. They would not be victimised or stigmatised unduly.

Justice Saqib Nisar made the observation during the hearing of the Ogra implementation case by a three-judge bench headed by him.

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At the last hearing on Aug 22, then chief justice Jawwad S. Khawaja had appointed a commission headed by Deputy Attorney General Khawaja Ahmad Hosain to ascertain whether the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) or the National Highway Authority (NHA) or the Punjab police had helped Tauqir Sadiq, a former chairman of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra), flee the country.

Tauqir Sadiq had escaped despite the fact that the authorities had prior information about his plan. His name was put on the exit control list (ECL) after the Supreme Court had on Nov 25, 2011, declared his appointment as Ogra chairman illegal. According to a NAB assessment, his tenure had cost the petroleum sector a whopping Rs82 billion.

On Thursday, the court ordered NAB to submit a complete record showing issuance of the arrest warrant for Sadiq by the bureau, its withdrawal on verbal orders and issuance of the second warrant.

Justice Saqib Nisar said the Aug 22 directive was a fundamental and basic order, adding that there would be zero tolerance for corruption since the menace rendered societies moth-eaten within inside. Fighting and eliminating corruption with full force should be on the highest priority list of the superior judiciary, he said.

Some people described this role of the judiciary against corruption as judicial activism, but in true sense ending the corruption from society should be the prime goal of the judiciary, the judge said, adding that it was the need of the hour that NAB – an institution considered as a watchdog against corruption – should be above all extraneous influences and it needed to be investigated how a person could manage to make good his escape from the country when his name was on the ECL.

When asked by the court who would investigate NAB if it was not behaving in a diligent manner or acting in bad faith, DAG Khawaja Hosain said the National Accountability Ordinance in its present form did not provide for any monitoring or accountability of NAB itself.

He said courts had the power of judicial review and was using its authority to monitor progress in certain cases, but practically they could not monitor each and every investigation or inquiry on a regular basis. Theoretically, the courts, which would ultimately be adjudicators in the event of a trial, would want to refrain from any sort of detailed involvement in the investigation or inquiry stage so as not to prejudice a fair trial, he said.

The DAG said there were a few examples where the NAB chairman or its prosecutor general had taken action against the bureau’s delinquent employees because there was an inbuilt mechanism in the NAB law.

Referring to a contempt of court petition by Mohammad Yasin against two television channels, the court directed NAB to submit its reply.

The court will resume the hearing after two weeks.

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2015

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