The government is all set to technically avoid the implementation of the Dec 16, 2009, Supreme Court judgment on the fresh appointment of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman. It is mandatory for the government to consult the judiciary on the appointment of a new NAB chairman under the apex court decision on the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). “The government plans out of blue to table before parliament the proposed law to establish a new accountability commission replacing NAB and, thus, finishing the SC role in the appointment of a chairman.” The PML-N has attached a dissenting note on the recommendations on the proposed legislation, The Holders of Public Offices (Accountability) Bill, 2009, finalised by the committee with a majority vote. “Yes, you are right that the new NAB chairman is compulsorily to be inducted into consultation with the chief justice of the Supreme Court,” confirmed a member of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice. Several members were convinced that the government was deliberately avoiding to take a new chairman whether for a short period, otherwise, the existing NAB is under its tight control, both administratively and financially. “There is a strong possibility that the same bill, which is so far widely controversial, is brought before the National Assembly and shortly after that, before the Senate, to get its final approval,” a member said. The apex court, which has a monitoring cell, can ask the government at any time as to why not its NRO judgment is being implemented in case of the NAB chairman. “It too will be a serious situation.” The apex court had ordered fresh appointments in place of NAB Chairman Nawid Ahsan and two others four months back. “But the same person is holding the key position. “The federal government may make fresh appointments against the said posts (NAB chairman, PG and DPG) of persons possessing high degree of competence and impeccable integrity in terms of Section 6 of the NAB Ordinance as also in terms of the observations of this court made in the case of Khan Asfandyar Wali Vs the Federation of Pakistan (PLD 2001 SC 607),” the judgment reads. And what observations were made in Asfandyar Wali includes taking the chief justice into confidence while appointing the chairman. “The NAB chairman shall be appointed by the president (now chief executive) in consultation with the chief justice of Pakistan,” reads the decision on the Asfandyar case. Asfandyar had filed a review petition against the judgment passed in the tenure of Irshad Hasan Khan, who had led a full court bench while being the chief justice at that time. The court, in its NRO verdict, had however, allowed the government that “till such fresh appointments are so made, the present incumbents may continue to discharge their obligations strictly in accordance with the law.” PML-N MNA Justice (retd) Iftikhar Ahmed Cheema, when approached, said his party had serious reservations over the form of the bill the treasury got approved from the NA Standing Committee on Law and Justice. “One cannot rule out the possibility as we have to discuss the matter on party platform,” was his response when asked whether the PML-N would challenge the said bill, if approved without a consensus. The treasury parties enjoy a clear simple majority vote from the National Assembly and the Senate, as required in case of an act of parliament, a simple bill. A sitting SC judge as head of the commission, no time bar on prosecution and no indemnification under the garb of good faith, are the PML-N’s major objections on the draft the treasury finalised on the platform of the committee, the former judge said. Another member Zahid Hamid said the government consumed almost one year to bring all the parliamentary parties on agreement on the Accountability Bill. “But it took a U-turn while getting the legislation approved from the committee with a majority vote instead of taking all the members on board.” Zahid Hamid said even the name of the National Accountability Commission was proposed by the PML-N. “We had given 58 points and there was an agreement on 54 before the last meeting of the standing committee. “We will strongly oppose the bill when it is brought before the National Assembly, as neither are we in favour of giving any sort of indemnity to the head of the Accountability Commission, nor we can put a three-year time bar for prosecution.”
By: The News