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Tauqir Sadiq case: Nab asked to file reference against Raja

January 24, 2013

Supreme Court of Pakistan. — Photo by AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: As if strictures for arresting Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and other accused in the RPP scam case were not enough, the Supreme Court ordered the National Accountability Bureau on Thursday to file within a week two corruption references in the Tauqir Sadiq case.

One of the references ordered to be filed points a finger at the prime minister who had allegedly approved Sadiq’s appointment as chairman of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra).

The other is against the officials who are accused of obstructing investigations against Sadiq and facilitating his escape from the country. They include Interior Minister Rehman Malik and PPP’s senior leader Jehangir Badar who is a close relative of Sadiq.

Raja Ashraf was water and power minister and head of the selection committee which had approved the appointment of Tauqir Sadiq.

Sadiq purports to have an LLM degree from a ‘fake degree-granting’ institution -- American University in London.

The former Ogra chairman is accused of having caused a loss of Rs83 billion to the national exchequer and eventually fled away.

Sadiq went into hiding soon after the Nov 25, 2011, Supreme Court verdict which had declared his appointment illegal and directed NAB to investigate corruption cases against him within 45 days.

NAB officials have been in Dubai for many days to arrest and bring Sadiq back.

On Thursday, a two-judge bench comprising Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain regretted that despite earlier directives no reference had been filed, although members of the selection committee had been identified.

NAB’s Director Irfan Beg informed the court that investigations had been completed and files were sent to the authorities concerned on Jan 11, but an approval for giving a final shape to the reference was awaited. However, he assured the court that the references would be filed in an accountability court in a week.

“It is a matter of extreme concern that the approval for filing of the reference still has not been accorded,” Justice Khawaja said. He regretted that no explanation had been for the inordinate delay of more than a year.

In order to enable NAB to perform its statutory duty promptly, the court, however, accepted the assurance with an understanding that the references against the accused would be filed before Jan 31.

Another inquiry under Section 31 of the National Accountability Ordinance for compromising, hampering or jeopardising the investigations, the court noted, had identified other accused (Rehman Malik and Jehangir Badar). But the court again allowed the same plea for an adjournment for the filing of the reference in the interest of justice.

FIA’a Director Legal Mohammad Azam informed the court that travel history of Sadiq from Pakistan was missing and, therefore, the investigators were tracing the reverse travel trail from Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

Referring to an application of Sameera Abbasi Marri, wife of Ogra’s former member finance Mir Kamal Marri who is also an accused in the scandal, the court said the applicant might approach a competent court for a bail for her husband.

Ms Marri expressed apprehensions that because of the media hype her husband might be denied bail.

But the bench said it was a mere speculation and that the court never acted on extraneous matters.