ISLAMABAD: The acting Chief Justice of Pakistan reprimanded the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) over the arrest of an accused from the Supreme Court’s premises on Monday.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial’s note of censure came after the bureau picked up Saifur Rehman, who operates a Mudarba firm by the name of B4U Investment Company, while he was coming to the court for the hearing of his bail plea.
Saifur Rehman is facing a charge of conning his clients out of millions of rupees through his dubious investment schemes.
The Supreme Court observed that the rule of law was more important than the recovery of money and that the stolen amount cannot be brought back through intimidation.
Justice Javed Iqbal, the bureau’s chairman, has ordered action against the officials responsible for the incident and asked the Rawalpindi office to submit a report on Tuesday, according to a NAB notification.
Acting Chief Justice (ACJ) Umar Ata Bandial took note of the episode when senior counsel Sardar Latif Khosa drew the court’s attention to the “sudden and swift arrest” of his client.
After the dramatic arrest, the accused was bundled into a NAB vehicle and whisked away.
Justice Munib Akhtar wondered what was the urgency behind the swift action, adding why should not the court order registration of a case against NAB officials and why should not they be brought to court in handcuffs.
“We have to protect the prestige and dignity of the Supreme Court. The NAB should not terrorise citizens of this country,” Justice Umar Ata Bandial said in his remarks.
The apex court granted interim bail to Saifur Rehman subject to the furnishing of a surety bond of Rs1 million.
The ACJ regretted that the accused was whisked away from the court’s premises in a fashion reminiscent of the action against Pablo Escobar, a Colombian drug baron. The premises of the apex court should not be treated like a casino, the ACJ remonstrated.
The apex court ordered NAB officials deputed for the arrest to furnish surety bonds of Rs 100,000 each to the registrar, admit their mistake and apologise to the court as well as the accused.
The bureau had been conducting raids for the arrest of Saifur Rehman since he fled the High Court after it dismissed his bail plea.
The Supreme Court directed the authorities to submit CCTV footage, in order to help identify the officials involved in the incident, during the next hearing. The director general of Rawalpindi NAB and the chief of the bureau’s human rights cell were asked to appear in the court on Wednesday (Sept 1).
Latif Khosa alleged that his client was picked up in dramatic fashion through a commando action recalling the Bond movies. “I have never seen such incidents even in sessions courts.”
Published in Dawn, August 31st, 2021