ISLAMABAD - In the backdrop of the money-laundering charges against deposed premier Nawaz Sharif, a PML-N leader Saturday moved an application in the Supreme Court, seeking removal of National Accountability Bureau Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal.

A few days back, the NAB chief said in a press release the bureau was investigating a case against the former premier for allegedly transferring/laundering $ 4.9 billion to India. It was further alleged the issue had been brought to light in the World Bank’s Migration and Remittance Book for the year 2016.

PML-N President for Japan chapter Noor Muhammad Awan filed the petition under Article 84 (3) of the Constitution, stating the esteem institution of NAB is not supposed to become a tool of any political campaign against any political leader. It is awful that politicians generally hurl baseless allegations against their rivals to achieve their political goals and motives, it said.

Although the petition has been filed under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution, the ambit of the suo motu, but legal experts believe the Supreme Court is not an appropriate forum for the removal of the NAB chairman. They say the NAB chief has protection against the removal and only the president, as the head of the state, is empowered to send a reference to Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) for adjudication.

The NAB chairman can only be removed under Section (6)(b) of National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, which states, “Chairman NAB shall not be removed except on the grounds of removal of a judge of Supreme Court of Pakistan.”

The PML-N leader in his petition said, “The careless press release cannot be said a bona fide act as a person steering an institution having well-equipped knowledge and responsibility is not supposed to make himself or his institution incredible or to trigger distrust for the institution.”

It said: “The State Bank of Pakistan denied these allegations in its press release on September 21, 2016.” It further said, “The top court always took notice of illegalities, irregularities and intervened in the situation when the holder of a public office liable to be adjudged under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution was found guilty”.

“This is one of the exceptional situations to intervene when the press release does not contain any sound material; rather a flimsy press release shows grudge. Justice (r) Javed Iqbal is not holding the office in a free and fair manner, so his removal is inevitable to meet the ends of justice.”

The petitioner contended, “This country can only survive when corruption is eliminated and rooted out from all the strata of life from bottom to top, but this process must be undertaken fairly, freely and independently.” He argued the concept of independence of institutions has been damaged and impartiality has vanished.

The petition said, “Although the said press release was clarified with an excuse, subsequent events show the captain of the institution developed ill-will against Sharif.”

“There is no other efficacious, speedy and just remedy except to approach this institution for the removal of the respondent to serve the purpose to save Pakistan and its image in international comity of nations and before the people of Pakistan.”

“It is humbly prayed that this petition may kindly be heard while probing the fake press release which was aimed at damaging the reputation of a political leader without any cogent material and causing ruthless loss to the institution.”