Only beneficial change to NAB law acceptable: chairman

Published August 13, 2021
National Accountability Bureau Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal said the Supreme Court had taken stock of the NAB Ordinance and found no discrepancy in it. — DawnNewsTV/File
National Accountability Bureau Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal said the Supreme Court had taken stock of the NAB Ordinance and found no discrepancy in it. — DawnNewsTV/File

LAHORE: National Accountability Bureau Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal says he will not endorse any amendment to the NAB law which favours suspects.

“If any amendment to the NAB law favours suspects, it will be useless. Yes… if any amendment is aimed at eliminating corruption, improving the accountability process and building people’s confidence in this institution, it should be brought about,” Justice Iqbal said at an event held in connection with distribution of cheques worth Rs730 million among the 1,434 affected people of the Grand Avenue Housing Society, at the bureau’s provincial headquarters here on Thursday.

The chairman said the Supreme Court had taken stock of the NAB Ordinance and found no discrepancy in it. “However, any amendment that is beneficial for the people should be introduced,” he added.

As for delay in the NAB cases, Justice Iqbal said it was generally said that the bureau did not get its references decided early. “But in reality, the NAB does not decide its cases itself. It is the job of courts. If I am given the power, I will decide them within two-and-a-half-months,” he said and added that the delay in deciding the NAB cases was caused by inadequate accountability courts. “Hopefully, this issue will be addressed as the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) has ordered to establish more accountability courts.”

Speaking about the Plea Bargain (PB) law, the chairman said the PB was criticised by various circles without knowing the fact that it was lawful. “The NAB has never forced any suspect to hold PB. This is being effectively practiced in different European countries as well. He said the PB was validated by courts and through this 95 per cent of the looted amount was recovered and the affected people were compensated.

Regarding criticism of the accountability watchdog by parliamentarians, Justice Iqbal said each and every parliamentarian was respectable to the NAB. “The NAB never responds to any parliamentarian’s criticism of it. The motherland was made by politicians and they shape the country’s destiny,” he said, adding no NAB action would be against law as it did not believe in hurting sentiments of any one.

The chairman further said the NAB welcomed constructive criticism but it would not help stop it from taking further initiatives. “The NAB will continue its work despite all sorts of criticism,” he added.

He appreciated the performance of the bureau’s Lahore chapter saying its recent plea bargain amounting to Rs2.26bn in Grand Avenue Housing Society scam was remarkable. He said the NAB Lahore had disbursed billions of rupees among thousands of affected people and the departments concerned.

NAB Lahore Director General Shahzad Saleem said that under the incumbent chairman, NAB held PB worth Rs14bn. “During the last four years, a sum of Rs60.6bn had been recovered as indirect recovery. NAB Lahore’s prosecution wing had filed 206 references in accountability courts during this tenure,” he said.

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2021

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