ISLAMABAD The Supreme Court asked the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Friday to “stop playing hide and seek” about immunity status of President Asif Ali Zardari and take into custody documents relating to the $60 million money laundering case which the government had withdrawn from Swiss courts.
“For how long will this hide and seek continue,” asked Justice Javed Iqbal who heads a three-judge bench hearing the Bankers City Housing Society fraud case. He asked the bureau to submit in writing if someone enjoyed protection under the Constitution.
He said that only the court had the authority to interpret the Constitution, adding “Neither the NRO judgment is person-specific nor the court is interested in personalities.”
The court also referred to media reports about the possibility of documents having been tampered with, evidences damaged and old record replaced and ordered NAB to protect the documents by taking these into its custody.
The observations were made when NAB in its report submitted that its efforts to open the Swiss cases were being hampered because the records relating to the money laundering case had gone missing during the tenure of former president Gen Pervez Musharraf.
The court asked NAB to implement the Dec 16, 2009, verdict on the National Reconciliation Ordinance without any hitch and take measures to protect all NRO-related record.
NAB's acting chairman Irfan Nadeem told the court that the bureau had written a letter to the law ministry seeking instructions for reviving the corruption cases since the president enjoyed immunity under Article 248 of the Constitution. The ministry in turn referred the matter to the Attorney General's office and its reply was still awaited, the court was told.
Justice Tariq Parvez observed that the court was not interested in individuals and directed NAB to recover the missing record.
“The apex court has the power to get its order implemented,” Justice Iqbal observed, and referred to Article 189 which obligated all state institutions to implement the court's decision and Article 190 through which the court could seek institutions' help for the purpose.
The court also made it clear that it would not allow the bureau to delay the matter and called for particulars of newly-appointed NAB prosecutors.
The court also said the NAB chairman should have quit his office under the NRO decision, but deplored that it had not happened.
On Feb 19, the apex court had upbraided NAB for sitting over its order to reopen the Swiss cases and warned NAB chairman Nawid Ahsan of coercive measures, including attachment of his salary as well as restricting NAB representatives from appearing before court, unless the Dec 16 verdict was complied with.
The court adjourned the hearing for two weeks on the request of NAB's acting chairman.