ISLAMABAD: National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal on Saturday informed the Supreme Court that it is impossible to conclude a corruption reference within a 30-day time frame due to a lack of accountability courts to adjudicate a high number of cases.
The reply was submitted in response to the directions issued by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed to the government to form 120 new accountability courts so all the pending National Accountability Bureau (NAB) cases could be wrapped up within three months.
The CJP had asked the law secretary to set up new courts after getting approval from the competent authorities. The court had also sought suggestions from the NAB chairman for the expeditious disposal of pending references.
In a response submitted to the SC, the NAB chief said the anti-graft body had multiple times conveyed these issues to the government that the accountability courts are unable to meet the legal requirements due to a shortage of courts and judges.
“That under section 16(a) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 a timeframe of 30 x days is set for conclusion of trial by the Court and it is required to conduct proceedings on day-to-day basis. However, with the present strength of Accountability Courts and the workload of cases pending adjudication before each Accountability Court, (on average each Accountability Court is currently handling 50 x References), it practically is impossible to adjudicate and finalize matters within 30 x days.”
He also stated that stay orders issued by the High Courts in petitions filed by the accused are also one of the reasons behind the backlog in the disposal of cases.
The former SC judge maintained that the courts do not follow the rules laid down by the Supreme Court in granting bails, adding that the process to declare an accused as absconder is also time-consuming.
The delay in mutual legal assistance from destinations is also cited as one of the reasons.
He informed the court that due to the wrong definition of ‘politically exposed personalities’ by the courts it becomes difficult to explain this to the foreign agencies.
The NAB chairman stated that 120 additional accountability courts needed to be established in Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi/ Islamabad and Balochistan.
“If district and sessions judges are not available then retired judges can be hired for the purpose.”