ISLAMABAD -  The Supreme Court said the Chairman National Accountability Bureau did not have authority to relax rules by compromising eligibility and academic qualifications.

A three-judge bench, headed by Justice (Retd) Amir Hani Muslim had passed the order on illegal appointments in the NAB on March 30 while its judgment passed on Saturday.

In view of the apex court order, four Director Generals were de-notified and a committee was formed to examine the cases of 198 officers who were promoted or inducted in violation of the NAB rules.

The judgment authored by Justice Hani said through the NAB Ordinance, NAB was created with the purpose to eradicate corrupt practices and hold accountable the persons who indulged in corrupt practices. It said the main object was to provide measures for the detection, investigation and prosecution of those involved in corruption and corrupt practices or who had misused or abused their powers.

The apparent objective was not to target petty criminals but those who had indulged in massive corruption or where there had been major misuse or abuse of powers.

The court noted that the NAB also had the mandate to proceed against white collar criminals who may not be easily detected by the provincial police or the Anti-Corruption Establishment in view of the subterfuge with which such persons operate or in view of the difficulty associated with unearthing such crimes.

The judgment said that the very mandate of NAB means that the different positions in NAB are filled by persons possessing certain minimal academic qualifications and experience as stipulated in the Schedule to MAQ. Similarly, stringent conditions for promotions were mentioned in the TCS and MAQ. “We are dismayed with the contents of the report submitted by the neutral and the very senior bureaucrat, the Secretary Establishment Division,” the judgment noted.

The court said that the NAB acknowledges many of the shortcomings and discrepancies in the appointments, inductions and the promotions. However, the counsel representing the NAB officers and Khawaja Haris, appearing on behalf of NAB tried to justify as to why the stipulated academic qualification or the prescribed experience was not met by a person appointed and/or promoted.

A number of untenable arguments in this connection were put forward and in this regard reference was made to sub-rule (2) of Rule 14.03 of Terms and Conditions of Service and much stress was placed on the word ‘deemed’.

Another argument was that the appointments made by transfer under Part VI of the TCS and the provisions would not require to meet the criteria specified in MAQ.

The court felt the arguments of Prosecutor General of NAB were strange that under the title ‘Academic Qualification,’ which mentions specific qualification for the appointments could also be made if the appointee had ‘any qualifications approved by the competent authority.’

The court further noted that the contentions of advocates Malik Muhammad Qayyum, Ahmed Awais, and Shoaib Shaheen was that if a person had subsequently acquired the required academic qualification then he cannot be removed or de-notified on the ground that he did not have the stipulated academic qualification.

The court observed that the attempt was made to make the matter complicated, while it is basically a very simple one. The MAQ and the TCS prescribed the requisite academic qualification and experience, inter alia, that a person who is appointed must possess required academic qualification at the time of his appointment.