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ISLAMABAD: The treatment meted out to suspects of corrupt practices during investigations by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) came under the spotlight again in the Supreme Court on Tuesday when Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar regretted about the humiliating attitude during probes.

A three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by the chief justice, which had taken up a case relating to Rs600 billion corruption in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) contract, said NAB could investigate, but it should treat the suspects with respect and honour as it had no right to ridicule the suspects.

In his petition, journalist Asad Kharral had alleged that the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority being the competent forum was ignored to decide LNG prices and 20 shipments of LNG were procured on spot without a government-to-government agreement.

On Aug 30, while hearing a case relating to delay in contruction of the multi-billion Orange Line Metro Train project, the chief justice had cautioned the accountability watchdog that no citizen or bureaucrat should be harassed or humiliated and no hindrance to any public project should be put in place simply because NAB was seized with an inquiry.

The chief justice even had a meeting with NAB Chairman Javed Iqbal recently and asked him to maintain secrecy till the filing of the references against any individual so that no embarrassment was caused to anyone.

On Tuesday, the chief justice, without naming a businessman, son of a renowned and deceased lawyer, narrated how the latter fell over his feet the other day and explained in a choked voice about the treatment he had to undergo during a probe conducted by NAB in some corruption cases.

Not only he was slapped and detained for seven hours but was also shown NAB’s detention centre with a threat to dump the individual, the chief justice deplored.

CJP Nisar even asked the in-charge of the Supreme Court Human Rights Cell to narrate what he saw and the latter corroborated whatever the chief justice had observed. The court was bound to intervene when such kind of treatment was meted out by the investigation officers, the CJP warned.

NAB prosecutor general Syed Asghar Haider assured the court that its concerns had been communicated to all investigation officers and every care would be taken that this should not be repeated again.

Regarding the LNG scandal, Mr Haider explained that the matter was under NAB investigation and that 80 per cent record of the contract had been secured.

The petitioner requested the court to order the authorities to provide details of the contract because the government was not taking parliament into confidence. The court ordered NAB to furnish the outcome of the investigations in a sealed envelope.

Earlier in its reply, the Ministry of Energy had contended before the apex court that the import of LNG appeared to be the most viable solution to meet the energy deficit in a situation when the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India and Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline projects could not be undertaken on account of global and regional political, economic and security issues, beyond the control of Pakistan.

The government stated that Pakistan was an energy-deficit country where demand outstripped supply, adversely affecting the economic growth of the country, adding that Pakistan was trying its best to increase indigenous production through extensive exploration development and production by offering globally competitive market incentive by promulgation of various petroleum policies.

Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2018