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July 9, 2020

Speedier accountability courts needed: NAB not working, says CJP Gulzar Ahmed

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July 9, 2020

Speedier accountability courts needed: NAB not working, says CJP Gulzar Ahmed

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday directed the Secretary Law to seek instructions from the government on proposal of creating at least 120 accountability courts across the country and to fill up such courts with the judges and distribute all pending cases among them so that these cases are decided at fast pace and also in accordance with the timeframe provided in the law.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed heard a case pertaining to delay in trial of cases by the accountability courts as well as suo motu review petition on court direction passed in cases, regarding grant of bail to co-accused.

The court observed that the accountability court to the extent of 120 as proposed need to be established to see the backlog of cases decided. The court directed that Attorney General for Pakistan and also the Secretary Law should appear before the court on the next date of hearing.

The court further directed that the NAB Prosecutor General should also be in attendance with a report duly signed by the NAB chairman be made available to the court as to how the NAB proposed to deal with all these pending cases and have them decided at the earliest.

The court noted that if such measures are not adopted by the government and the NAB, the whole purpose of the law will stand vitiated, which apparently was not the purpose of the legislature.

“We are unable to understand the rationale or logic behind the courts vacant for long periods by the relevant authorities,” the court noted down in its order adding that when they see that the cases before the accountability court are to be decided in terms of law within 30 days.

The courts keep lying vacant for even years and cases of that courts remain pending,” the court observed adding that the whole purpose of making an accountability law apparently seems to be rendered futile if the courts are allowed to remain vacant.

The court noted that the number of pendency of cases in the accountability courts demand more than hundred number of judges/courts for dealing and deciding these cases as such cases are being filed regularly and their numbers are also increasing while the number of courts are totally stagnant.

The court noted that the CMA filed by the NAB shows that the cases even of the years 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 onward are pending before the accountability courts and apparently there seems to be no valid justification as to why these cases are being allowed to remain pending as they have to be disposed of without delay at all.

The court expected that the Secretary Law after seeking instructions from the government should immediately fill all the vacancies of the accountability courts and it should be done within a period of one week without fail otherwise the court will take coercive action against the officials who are found defaulting in performance of their duties.

The court further directed that the strength of the accountability courts all over Pakistan should immediately be increased by the government in order to ensure that all the pending accountability cases are come to the logical conclusion at fast pace and at least within three months.

Earlier, during the course of hearing, the Chief Justice while referring to a pending reference with NAB said that the instant case was filed in 2001 and the said person has also died.

“What is going on and why cases are not decided on time?” the CJP asked adding that in the provincial metropolitan city of Punjab, Lahore there are some 300 references filed by NAB are pending.

The CJP asked to explain as to why these cases got some twenty years, which were required to be decided in just three months. The CJP while expressing concerns over the poor performance of the NAB said that they do not want to use harsh words about the anti-graft body.

It seems that deciding 1,226 NAB references cases will take a century,” the CJP remarked adding that the NAB law will come to an end if these references are not decided at the earliest. During the hearing, the counsel for NAB submitted that there are some 25 NAB courts across the country, however, he informed that five of these courts have no judges to adjudicate upon the cases. He further said that in these courts some, 1,226 references filed by the NAB are pending.

The CJP asked as to why cases are not being heard by these courts to which the NAB counsel replied that due to COVID-19 pandemic, hearing on these cases could not be conducted. Meanwhile, the court adjourned the hearing for a week.