The Supreme Court on Friday took exception to the National Accountability Bureau's (NAB) hand in a delay in the construction of a hospital in Islamabad, and summoned the NAB chairman and prosecutor to the chief justice's chambers.
The court was hearing a suo motu case on the condition of hospitals in Islamabad. In an earlier hearing of the case, the SC had asked the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to allot land for the construction of a hospital within 15 days.
In today's hearing, Chief Justice Saqib Nisar and Justice Ijazul Ahsan enquired about the progress on the allotment of land to the hospital.
The judges noted that the government of Bahrain had wanted to give Rs10 billion for the construction of the hospital and that the CDA had been given 15 days to make a decision regarding the allotment of land for the hospital.
"What has happened with regards to its construction?" the chief justice asked, to which Ministry of National Health Services Secretary Zahid Saeed said that no progress had been made.
The CDA lawyer informed the court that NAB had launched an inquiry into the allotment of land after an application regarding the matter had been filed.
Justice Nisar expressed his displeasure that the accountability watchdog "begins disrespecting people after it receives a single application".
"Is everyone except NAB a thief?" the top judge remarked. "They launch inquiries into whoever surfaces and destroy their reputations."
He added that a NAB official in Lahore is known for "blackmailing people" for personal gain.
Justice Nisar summoned the NAB chairman and prosecutor to his chambers.
"Tell [the] NAB chairman that it is possible that his exemption from appearing before the court [as a former judge] could be revoked," the chief justice warned, adding that the apex court had in the past given former SC judges exemptions from court appearances.
"Are the court's orders or NAB's orders more important for CDA?" the top judge asked, while enquiring if the bureau had any standards for conducting its investigations.
He said that Bahrain's government was enthusiastic about giving Rs10bn for the hospital's construction.
The federal health secretary informed the court that a 200-bed hospital was being built in Tarlai.
The top judge said the issue was of CDA's allotment of the land for the hospital, to which Justice Ahsan added that the development authority to was to allot 237 kanals for the purpose.
Saeed said that the Bahraini government was going to build a nursing university on the land but because of the NAB inquiry, the land could not be allotted.
Later in the day, NAB Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal called on the chief justice in his chambers and briefed him about the matter and explained his stance.
Meanwhile, the CDA chairman and the NAB prosecutor general also appeared before the chief justice in his chambers.
The NAB prosecutor general clarified that the bureau didn't stop CDA from constructing of the hospital. “NAB had only sought details from CDA regarding some related issue,” he said.
"The bureau is currently carrying out an internal inquiry and has not given any given any directive to stop the transfer of land," the counsel said.
At this, the CDA chairman responded that the accountability watchdog issued notices to CDA officials after which the authority halted progress on the matter.