ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday expressed displeasure with the performance of Balochistan National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Director General Irfan Naeem Mangi, whose negligence, the court noted, had hampered the Bureau from actively pursuing corruption cases in the province.
While hearing bail pleas of former provincial minister for food Asfandyar Kakar and the former food deputy director of Balochistan, the three-member bench deplored its inability to take action against Mr Mangi because of an order to protect the tenure of members of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) which had probed allegations of money laundering against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
Mr Mangi and Brigadier Kamran Khurshid of the Military Intelligence (MI) had traced ousted PM Sharif’s Iqama (work permit) and documents pertaining to his receivable salary, on the basis of which the five-member bench hearing the Panama Papers case disqualified Mr Sharif.
During the hearing on Wednesday, Justice Dost Mohammad Khan, who was heading the bench, remarked that Mr Mangi had been facing disciplinary proceedings before being nominated to join the JIT.
Deplores that judges cannot take action against him because his tenure is protected under the Panama Papers verdict
Mr Mangi was among over 100 officials who had been served show-cause notices by a scrutiny committee, headed by former establishment secretary Tahir Shahbaz, for not having requisite experience in dealing with white-collar crimes. The notices had been served to these officers in compliance with the Supreme Court’s verdict on March 31, 2017.
Justice Khan deplored that the Balochistan NAB chief was now being hailed as a hero because of his involvement in the JIT.
The SC observed that the Bureau had been unable to pursue several corruption references due to Mr Mangi’s sheer negligence.
Justice Qazi Faez Isa remarked that Mr Mangi might be implicated as a co-accused in the corruption case against Mr Kakar and the former food deputy director because of his negligence.
However, Justice Khan pointed out that since a bench of the apex court had passed an order to protect Mr Mangi’s tenure, he could not be taken to task.
The five-member bench of the apex court in the Panamagate verdict had directed that “their (the JIT members’) tenure of service shall be safeguarded and protected and no adverse actions of any nature including transfer and posting shall be taken against them without informing the monitoring judge of this court nominated by the hon’ble chief justice of Pakistan”.
The review petition filed by Mr Sharif against the verdict terms the order to safeguard and protect the service of JIT members as “violative of Article 175(2), as also the principle of Separation of Powers that forms the cornerstone of our Constitution”.
The apex court bench hearing the bail petition remarked that NAB appeared to be facilitating corrupt practices in Balochistan where the situation was so appalling that a suspect could manage an acquittal despite being caught red-handed.
Justice Isa pointed out that as per the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999, corruption cases should be decided within 30 days but not a single case had ever been concluded within the prescribed time frame.
The court, however, granted bail to the former minister against a Rs10 million surety bond but rejected the bail pleas of Abdul Wali Kakar and the former deputy director food, Balochistan.
NAB had filed three references against the former food minister with regard to 256,000 bags of 100kg of wheat that had gone missing from a store in Pishin. NAB had accused him and the former deputy director of causing financial losses of over Rs2 billion to the national exchequer.
Mr Mangi, appointed director general of the Balochistan NAB in May this year, is a regular officer of the Bureau and is currently serving in grade 20.
He has also served as NAB’s chief for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, with an additional charge of the acting director for the Bureau’s operations division. A few months back he completed a national management course for promotion to grade 21.
Published in Dawn, September 7th, 2017