NAB rejects PML-Q leaders’ stance on pending inquiries

Updated May 08, 2020

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LHC adjourns hearing of three identical petitions filed by Chaudhrys. — AFP/File
LHC adjourns hearing of three identical petitions filed by Chaudhrys. — AFP/File

LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau has rejected the stance of Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) leaders Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Punjab Assembly Speaker Pervaiz Elahi taken in their petitions regarding some pending inquiries against them.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the NAB-Islamabad complained that the institution had been subjected to an unending ‘propaganda’ on the basis of inquiries against the Chaudhry brothers.

It said the NAB chairman had not taken any final decision on these cases or issued any order that could be challenged before the court.

The bureau further said that all old cases had been investigated as per normal course as they could not be kept in closets for an indefinite time. It reiterated that NAB was an independent institution and had no political affiliation. It urged media to avoid speculations and seek version from its spokesperson before airing or publishing news about pending cases.

LHC adjourns hearing of three identical petitions filed by Chaudhrys

Meanwhile, a division bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday adjourned hearing of three identical petitions by PML-Q leaders Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Pervaiz Elahi, challenging three 20-year-old inquiries against them by NAB.

Mr Elahi personally appeared before the bench along with other party leaders and his legal team, including Lahore High Court Bar Association president Tahir Nasarullah Warraich and Amjad Pervez. The bench comprises Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem and Justice Farooq Haider.

During the short hearing, Mr Warraich objected to the presence of Justice Haider on the bench, saying the judge had represented the Chaudhry brothers in number of cases before his elevation.

Therefore, he said, it would not be appropriate for the judge to be part of the bench hearing the instant petitions.

Justice Naeem, who headed the bench, observed that the bench was not going to hear the petition since it received the case files late and unable to go through them.

The judge said the bench would hear the petitions on May 11 and would decide first the objection to the presence of the other judge of the bench.

Mr Elahi did not talk to media, however, his party leader Kamil Ali Agha said NAB had initiated the inquiries against the Chaudhry brothers 20 years ago on an anonymous complaint. He said his party had an old stance that NAB had been established for political victimisation.

Mr Agha said the party leaders had presented their view before the court, through petitions, and now the lawyers would do their job.

The petitions by the Chaudhry brothers said in 2000 the then chairman of the bureau authorised investigation against them on the allegations of misuse of authority, assets beyond means and wilful default under the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.

They said all the three investigations were recommended for closure by the investigating officers and regional board of NAB during 2017 and 2018 when the regime of their political arch rivals was in place.

However, they said, the NAB chairman approved in 2019 reinvestigation and bifurcation of the inquiries against them after an investigation spreading over a period of 19 years since authorisation of investigation in 2000.

The petitioners contended that the establishment of NAB, its credibility, partiality and use for political engineering has been a matter of heated debate not only by all the political parties but also by human rights organisations and intelligentsia both at national and international level.

They asked the court to set aside the authorisation of the inquiries and the order for their bifurcation passed by the NAB chairman for being unlawful.

Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2020