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ISLAMABAD: The Sup­reme Court on Wednesday returned a petition filed against National Accounta­bility Bureau (NAB) Chair­man retired Justice Javed Iqbal for issuing a press release that accused former prime minister Nawaz Sharif of laundering $4.9 billion to India.

The petition was moved by Noor Muhammad Awan — a local leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz — under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, requesting the court to order an inquiry into the issuance of the press release which, according to the petitioner, had damaged reputation of a political leader (PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif) without any cogent material and also damaged the institution of NAB.

But the registrar office of the apex court returned the petition on the grounds that it was not entertainable since the petitioner had approached the Supreme Court without approaching any appropriate forum available to him under the law for the same relief. The petitioner had also failed to provide any justification for not doing so, the registrar office stated in its order.

In its petition, Mr Awan had requested the court to order removal of the NAB chairman for accusing Mr Sharif of laundering money to India — an allegation that created quite a stir and made the National Assembly Stan­ding Committee on Law and Justice to summon the NAB chairman on Wednesday.

The petition had said that after damaging the reputation of Mr Sharif without any cogent material and causing loss to the institution of NAB, retired Justice Iqbal could no longer hold the high office as he was unable to work with fairness due to his partiality.

Taking notice of the money laundering allegations, the NAB chairman on May 8 had ordered an investigation against Mr Sharif while referring to the World Bank’s Migration and Remittance Book of 2016. But the very next day the State Bank of Pakistan had categorically rejected the report by stating that the information narrated in it was contrary to the facts.

By issuing the press release, the petition had said, the bureau chairman had damaged the institution of NAB and thus the malice was floating on the face from his conduct, his impartiality had vanished and thus he had defiled his oath of office.

It had pleaded that there was no alternative, efficacious and speedy and just remedy except to approach this institution (Supreme Court) to save Pakistan and its image in the international comity of nations and before the people of Pakistan to rebuild their trust in institutions.

The press release, the petition had alleged, could not be said to have been issued with bona fide intent and the person steering the institution (NAB) was supposed not to run the institution in a despotic manner.

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2018