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ISLAMABAD, Oct 1: The Supreme Court censured the National Accountability Bureau on Monday for its reluctance to act against influential people in the rental power projects case.

At the same time, a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain rejected a plea of seven NAB officials requesting withdrawal of the contempt notices issued by the court for not implementing its judgment in the RPP case.

On March 30, the court had rescinded the contracts signed between the government and RPPs after declaring that these were non-transparent and ordered the NAB chairman to proceed with corruption references against those who were at the helm of affairs when the deals were signed between 2006 and 2008 to plug the energy shortfall through RPPs as a stopgap arrangement.

The name of Prime Minister Raja Parvez Ashraf, who was then water and power minister, also features in the list of the accused.

On Sept 14, the court issued show-cause notices to NAB Chairman Admiral (retd) Faseeh Bokhari and seven senior officers of the bureau and asked them to explain why they should not be arraigned under contempt charges for not implementing its verdict in the RPP case.

On Monday, the court expressed dissatisfaction over a progress report submitted by NAB and asked its Prosecutor General K.K. Agha to produce terms of references and proceedings of the meeting of NAB’s executive board held to execute the court’s verdict.

“After going through the record and documents we will pass an order,” the court said, adding that if the court was not satisfied with the bureau’s progress report it would proceed with the contempt of court case against the NAB chairman and others responsible for not implementing the judgment.

“It seems that we and NAB are at loggerheads over this issue. The NAB is protecting the criminals by not initiating legal action against them despite the court’s judgment in its hands,” Justice Khawaja said.

He said the incumbent prime minister was also part of the selection committee which had made illegal recommendation for the appointment of Tauqir Sadiq as chairman of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority and he did admit illegalities in the RPP contracts when he was minister for water and power.

But NAB was completely ignoring the criminal aspect of the case and defending the criminals, he added.

The chief justice observed that criminal proceedings were necessary for establishment of deterrence so that nobody could dare to indulge in corrupt practices in future.

K.K. Agha insisted that the court could not interfere in NAB’s investigation and it was the task of the bureau to examine allegations. He said the National Accountability Ordinance had been passed by parliament which was supreme over all other institutions.