PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Tuesday directed the National Accountability Bureau to produce a detailed report about progress on its investigation into the alleged irregularities in the government-funded Billion Tree Tsunami project, Bank of Khyber recruitment, and award of the Malam Jabba Ski resort land lease.
A bench consisting of Justice Roohul Amin Khan and Justice Mussarat Hilali fixed Oct 5 for the next hearing into a pro bono petition filed by six civil society members, including Dr Adil Zareef, Maimoona Noor and others, seeking the court’s declaration that the NAB had failed to take action against the alleged irregularities in several government projects in the province.
The bench asked the NAB to submit the probe progress report to it before the next hearing.
The petitioners claimed that the NAB was carrying out selective accountability and had put all cases against the ruling party’s members on the back-burner.
They requested the court to declare that the NAB had failed to perform duties in relation to cases of the erstwhile KP Ehtesab Commission, alleged corruption in Billion Tree Tsunami project, alleged illegal appointments to the Bank of Khyber and alleged anomalies in the award of the Malam Jabba Ski resort lease, and that failure was arbitrary and illegal.
Members of civil society file petition accusing bureau of ‘selective’ accountability
The petitioners also sought the court’s orders for action against the NAB officers, who failed to perform duties regarding those cases under the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), 1999.
Senior advocate Ali Gohar Durrani appeared for the petitioners and requested the court to issue orders to the NAB to act in accordance with the NAO and instead of cherry-picking.
He contended that the NAB officers, who had given undue favours to the accused in those cases by withholding the process of their accountability, should be held accountable.
The bench observed that it, in an earlier hearing, had given directions to the NAB to continue with the investigation into the Malam Jabba land lease case the latter took those directions as a restriction on further action in that case.
The counsel contended that the NAB chairman had announced that a reference about the Malam Jabba lease was ready to be filed as early as Dec 2019 but that didn’t happened though several meetings of the NAB executive board took place later.
He added that there were some reports that the NAB had closed that case.
The lawyer added that the NAB hadn’t showed any progress on the cases of alleged irregularities in the Billion Tree Tsunami project and Bank of Khyber appointments.
He said discrimination against the opposition and favouring of the ruling elite by the NAB was tantamount to committing a corrupt practice.
The counsel said at the end of the first term of the PTI government in KP in 2018, it dawned upon the petitioners that the KP Ehtesab Commission being an absolute failure was part of history and the money spent of it had gone down the drain.
The respondents in the petition are the federation of Pakistan through the law secretary, interior secretary, NAB through its chairman, NAB executive board through its chairman, and NAB KP through its director general.
Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2021