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Supreme Court of Pakistan. – File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The government is likely to plead before the Supreme Court that the post of chief of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) cannot be filled until the decision of the federation's review petition against the removal of the former chairman.

“The federation will make a request for extending the timeframe set through a judicial order for filling the post of NAB chairman,” former law minister Babar Awan said on Tuesday.

Having challenged the removal of Justice (retd) Deedar Hussain Shah as NAB chairman, the government has failed to appoint a new chief within the 30 days given by the court. The deadline falls on Wednesday (today).

Meanwhile, the law ministry has sent a summary to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for the appointment of Justice (retd) Mohammad Sardar Raza Khan of the Supreme Court as NAB chairman. “We are waiting for the prime minister's decision,” the law ministry's adviser Farooq Awan said.

The adviser, who is a younger brother of Babar Awan, said the decision was likely in a couple of days.

Replying to a question, he said the appointment was not possible without consulting the opposition.

The sources said the government had not consulted Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on the proposed appointment in accordance with the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) and directives of the Supreme Court.

The government is likely to present a panel comprising Justice Raza, Justice (retd) Mukhtar Junejo and former federal secretary Mehmood Saleem Mehmood before the court and seek permission for the appointment.

The former minister said the federation would also file a civil miscellaneous application seeking an early decision on the review petition against the removal of the former chairman.

He said the federation would request the court to allow the deputy chairman to appoint the prosecutor general of NAB. “The appointment of prosecutor general is made with the consultation of the NAB chairman. As there is no chairman, the deputy chairman should be allowed to make the appointment,” he said.

On June 21, a bench comprising Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, while disposing of a constitutional petition filed by Al Jehad Trust against the appointment of NAB's Deputy Chairman Javed Kazi, declared that if the government failed to fill both vacant seats of chairman and prosecutor general in one month, the deputy chairman would automatically be barred from exercising the delegated powers of chairman and the bureau would become non-functional.

When contacted, Pakistan Muslim League-N leader Siddiqul Farooq said Chaudhry Nisar was out of the country, therefore, one could understand that he had not been consulted about the appointment.

He, however, said his party would have no objection to the nomination of any honourable judge of the apex court, but 'meaningful' consultation with the leader of the opposition was necessary.“If the government does not go for meaningful consultation with the leader of the opposition, the appointment of any person will be against the law and directives of the Supreme Court.”

The court had ordered the removal of Justice (retd) Shah for having been appointed without meaningful consultation with the leader of the opposition.

The PML-N leader alleged that the government had become accustomed to violating the Constitution and orders of the Supreme Court, saying it had been proven again in the case of additional director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Zafar Qureshi, who had been removed from service last week apparently to favour Moonis Elahi, son of Pervaiz Elahi whose party PML-Q had recently joined the ruling coalition. Moonis is one of the major accused in the National Insurance Corporation (NICL) corruption case being tried in the Supreme Court.

The court had also ordered the government on Sept 1 last year to appoint a new chairman of NAB within 30 days, but the deadline lapsed without implementation of the order.