ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has summoned a list of cases pending before different accountability courts across the country, expressing concern over delay in completion of cases instituted by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
A three-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice Mushir Alam, requested Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed to constitute a special bench and initiate suo motu proceedings over the delay in prosecuting the accused before the trial courts.
The members of the bench were Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah.
The top court asked the bureau to furnish a report highlighting reasons behind the delay in trials.
Bureau asked to furnish a report highlighting reasons behind the delay in trials
The bureau has also been asked to furnish a list of accountability courts in the country, the number of corruption cases these courts were seized with and how many courts are short of presiding judges and the reasons why the vacancies have not yet been filled.
The bench also issued notice to the law secretary.
The delay in completion of corruption cases caught the attention of the Supreme Court during the hearing of a bail plea filed by Allah Dino Bhayo.
The accused was arrested by NAB in August 2018 on charges of suspicious transactions to the tune of Rs4 million during 2013-15 — a period when he was acting as head of the PPP’s Sindh chapter.
An amount of over Rs40 million also came into the bank account of his driver/manager Maqsood Ahmed.
Senior counsel Shah Khawar, who appeared on behalf of Allah Dino Bhayo, told Dawn that on April 8 last year, the Supreme Court had issued a directive for NAB to complete the trial of the accused expeditiously.
Since then the accountability courts have adjourned proceedings 14 times and except for one instance, all other postponements were done on the request of the NAB prosecutor, the counsel said.
He explained that the accused was indicted for amassing wealth beyond his known sources of income on Dec 22, 2018, but even though NAB had provided a list of 13 witnesses before the trial court, and only two of them have been examined so far.
According to the counsel, Section 16 of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) requires that the trial against the accused should be completed within a period of 30 days, but here not even the regular hearing has commenced.
Only the other day, the same bench had questioned the performance of the anti-graft watchdog by asking why the bureau always sends the suspects to jail first and then start looking for the evidence.
Then the court had taken up the bail application of Faisal Kamran Qureshi, who was facing the allegations for defrauding innocent people to the tune of Rs33 million.
Justice Alam had also wondered why NAB never expedites in completing the procedures like holding inquiry and the collection of the evidence against the accused.
Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2020