LAHORE - The Lahore High Court yesterday stayed the proceedings of the National Accountability Bureau from deciding the matter of privatisation of Muslim Commercial Bank, directing the NAB chairman, Ministry of Law and Privatisation Commission of Pakistan to submit replies by October 20.

Muslim Commercial Bank’s director, Khawaja Muhammad Javed, had filed a petition through his counsel Khalid Anwar, challenging the NAB investigation against MCB Chairman Mian Mansha and the petitioner himself.

The counsel for the petitioner told the court that his clients did not commit any wrong; they purchased MCB through auction and observed all the rules and regulations of the Privatisation Commission.

The counsel said NAB had started investigation and had been summoning his clients to appear before it. The counsel contended that the NAB’s notices to his clients were violation of the rules of Privatisation Commission Ordinance, 2000.

Khalid Anwar further argued that an investigation agency could probe irregularities, if any, within the period of one year from the privatisation of a company/bank, but NAB had initiated inquiry against his clients after seven years. He prayed to the court to restrain the NAB from initiating an inquiry against Mian Mansha and Khawaja Muhammad Javed for the privatisation of the bank and stop it from issuing notices to his clients.

After hearing the arguments of the petitioners’ counsel, Justice Shams Mahmood Mirza restrained NAB from conducting an inquiry into the privatisation of MCB and ordered the respondents to submit replies.

In another case filed by Muhammad Hussain Rana, a two-judge bench of the LHC, headed by Justice Mahmood Maqbool Bajwa, set aside the pro forma of National Accountability Bureau for plea bargaining, declaring it unconstitutional. The court also took exception to inefficiency of the National Accountability Bureau’s investigating officers and defiance of the court orders.

Hussain Rana, the petitioner, said the NAB was not giving his money recovered from a defaulted forex company. He said he had been compelled by the NAB to receive only Rs 27,450 with an undertaking that he would be satisfied after receiving the said amount. He said the NAB had previously verified his claim to the extent of US$ 5,000 invested in the Rauf International Advisory Services that defrauded the public at large.

The petitioner stated that the NAB had been delaying payment of his approved claim for the last 10 years. He requested the court to order the NAB authorities to give his promised claim. After hearing arguments from both the sides, the bench set aside the pro forma of the NAB.

In another case of a mega scandal of Rs three trillion at Rauf Forex, the LHC snubbed NAB DG Syed Burhanuddin for nonpayment of amount to the victims.

Advocate Shazia Khalil appeared on behalf of those affected by the Rauf Forex scandal. The counsel told the court that the amount had been paid to favourites, but those who had no connections were still awaiting their payments.

The court observed an investigation officer had given an assurance that payments would be made to the affectees.

The bench asked the NAB DG who was present in the court about the undertaking given by NAB’s IO. The DG replied that he did not know if any IO had given such an undertaking. The bench snubbed the DG and directed him to resolve the matter as soon as possible and adjourned the case until Nov 2.