NAB offices stopped from processing white collar crime cases

Published October 14, 2021
A file view of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) office in Islamabad. — APP
A file view of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) office in Islamabad. — APP

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has written to all its regional bureaus to stop the process on all white collar crime cases until the law ministry interprets or elaborates on some crucial clauses of the newly promulgated NAB (second amendment) Ordinance 2021.

According to the letter, dated Oct 12, available with Dawn, all regional heads of the anti-graft watchdog were asked to provide comments and their input on the matter.

“Consequent upon promulgation of National Accountability (Second Amendment) Ordinance, 2021 dated 6th October 2021, NAB HQ is seeking guidance of the Ministry of Law & Justice regarding questions of interpretation and clarifications of some points. It is therefore, apprised that decision on all matters will be kept in abeyance till receipt of advice from the Ministry of Law & Justice,” the letter said.

“Regional bureaus are requested to provide comments/input on the subject if any at the earliest,” it added.

Under the ordinance many cases being investigated by NAB have to be referred to other relevant forums and courts and therefore following its promulgation, the regional bureaus have started receiving applications from the accused persons regarding transferring of their cases from NAB to other forums.

However, in pursuance of the ordinance, an accountability court Islamabad on Wednesday referred a case to a sessions court.

On Oct 6, President Dr Arif Alvi promulgated the National Accountability (Amendment-II) Ordinance (NAO) 2021 under Article 89 of the Constitution.

Under the said ordinance, Section 4 of the Ordinance 1999 had been amended, a press release said.

According to the ordinance, it will not apply to federal, provincial and local taxation/levies matters, and the decisions of the federal and provincial cabinets, whereas committees and subcommittees would not fall under the purview of the promulgated law.

The ordinance will not apply to the decisions of the Council of Common Interest (CCI), National Finance Commission (NFC), Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec), Central Development Working Party (CDWP) and State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

Further amendment was made to Section 5 of the Ordinance 1999.

Under the new ordinance, the president in consultation with the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) would establish accountability courts. The judge of the accountability court would be designated in consultation with the Supreme Court chief justice whose age should not exceed 68 years and his appointment would be made for a three-year term.

The president would have the authority to remove a judge of the accountability court, again in consultation with the CJP.

Section 6 of the Ordinance 1999 was also amended under which the president would appoint the NAB chairman in consultation with the prime minister and the leader of the opposition.

In case, there is no consensus on the appointment of a new NAB chairman, the matter will be referred to a parliamentary committee.

In that case, the National Assembly speaker would constitute a committee with equal representation from the treasury and opposition benches.

According to the ordinance, the term of the NAB chairman’s office will be of four years.

The ordinance further said the procedure for the removal of Supreme Court judges as envisaged in Article 209 of the Constitution would be applicable on the NAB chairman.

Besides, the bureau’s chief could be appointed for a period of another four years after completion of his or her term under the new amendment.

The incumbent (outgoing) chairman would perform his duties till his successor is appointed.

Section 31 DD was also added through the new amendment, under which no proceedings/investigations could be held against any board of the bank or financial institution without the approval of the State Bank of Pakistan governor.

Published in Dawn, October 14th, 2021

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