SC restrains trial court from proceeding over some NAB references

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday restrained the trial court till second week of February 2013 to proceed on the accountability references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against the appointment of Adnan Khawaja and promotion of Ahmad Riaz Sheikh.

A three-member Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali restrained the trial court while hearing the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) implementation case. NAB had also sent references to the accountability/trial court against former secretary Establishment Division Ismail Qureshi and six others.

The bench also heard the cases of illegal appointments of NRO beneficiaries- Adnan Khawaja as managing director OGDCL and Ahmad Riaz Sheikh as Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) additional DG.

Appearing on notice, Prosecutor General NAB KK Agha told the court that filing of accountability reference against any one was the job of the investigating agency, like NAB, and not of a court. He said references were filed against the appointment of Adnan Khawaja and promotion of Ahmad Riaz Sheikh on the pressure of the court.

Justice Ejaz Afzal noted that the court had never asked the NAB to file reference against former attorney general Malik Muhammad Qayyum or any other. K.K Agha requested the court to grant some time to NAB to summon and record the statement of former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in the appointment case of Adnan Khawaja.

Waseem Sajjad, counsel for former attorney general Malik Qayyum told the court that NAB had completed inquiry against Malik Qayyum and the case had been disposed of. Justice Tariq Parvez noted that the court has to see whether the inquiry conducted by NAB was transparent or not.

He also noted that the court will pass further orders in these cases after reviewing the performance of the NAB. The bench expressed annoyance over NAB for sending references against the bureaucrats who had followed the orders of former PM Gilani regarding appointment of Adnan Khawaja as OGDCL head and sparing Gilani who had had misused his authority by issuing orders of his appointment. Meanwhile, the court adjourned further hearing till second week of February 2013.

On last hearing, the court had directed the NAB authorities to review their decision to close the inquiries against former attorney general Malik Qayyum and send a reference against him in the light of Asghar Khan and Anita Turab cases.

The graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari were shelved in 2007 after the then attorney general Malik Qayyum had written letters to the Swiss authorities, following the promulgation of the NRO. The Supreme Court, in its December 16, 2009 judgment in NRO case, had directed the NAB to take action against Malik Qayyum, Ahmad Riaz Sheikh, Adnan Khawaja and other officials of the Establishment Division, the Interior Ministry and the FIA, who were involved in the illegal contractual appointment of Adnan Khawaja and reinstatement and promotion of Ahmad Riaz Sheikh.

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