LAHORE: An accountability court on Thursday adjourned for further arguments a reference of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for the closure of the last inquiry into a case of “illegal” appointments against the Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi.

Earlier, a NAB prosecutor told the court that many of the nominated suspects in the reference, including the beneficiaries of the illegal appointments, either died or retired from service. He said the available evidence was not enough to establish the charge of misuse of authority to make the appointments against Mr Elahi.

Duty Judge Sajjad Ahmad Sheikh adjourned the hearing till May 18 and directed the prosecutor to come up with more arguments.

Mr Elahi has been accused of making illegal appointments during his stint as Punjab local government minister during 1993.

Last week, the court allowed two identical NAB references and approved the closure of two separate inquiries into assets beyond means charges against the PML-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Mr Elahi. A third inquiry into charges of loan default against the duo had already been closed with the approval of the trial court.

The Chaudhrys had challenged the inquiries before the LHC, alleging the NAB had been used for political engineering.

During a hearing in December last, the court had shown concern over the pendency of the inquiries for 20 years and ordered the NAB to conclude the same within four weeks.

The PML-Q leaders had pleaded that all the inquiries against them had been recommended for closure by the investigating officers and the regional board of the NAB during 2017 and 2018. However, they said the NAB’s sitting chairman, retired justice Javed Iqbal, approved reinvestigation and bifurcation of the inquiries against them after a period of 20 years.

Published in Dawn, May 7th, 2021

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