IN a properly functioning democratic set-up, the process of accountability of public officials should ordinarily be the business of the judiciary. For various reasons, including the widespread prevalence of corrupt practices in the country, however, there is need to have an independent body charged exclusively with the handling of the matter. The Holders of Public Offices (Accountability) Bill moved by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Babar Awan in the National Assembly on Wednesday repeals the NAB Ordinance and stipulates the constitution of an Accountability Commission (AC). It covers ex-Presidents, ex-Governors, former or present Prime Ministers and other public officials in the Parliament. The AC will have a Chairman who is or has been, or is qualified to be, a judge of the Supreme Court. He will be appointed by the Prime Minister in consultation with the Leaders of the Opposition for a non-extendable period of three years. His appointment will be subject to the approval of a parliamentary committee. Similarly, the commission will have two Deputy Chairmen who are or have been, or are qualified to be, judges of a high court, and six members each from the treasury and opposition benches. Unfortunately, our experience with past accountability processes - whether the Ehtsab Bureau or the NAB - has been anything but inspiring. With some exceptions, these bodies came to be associated with the victimisation of political opponents or were used as instruments of official pressure on persons acknowledged to be corrupt, in order to gain their support. Strangely, those succumbing to the pressure were rewarded with important and lucrative positions. Hopefully, the proposed accountability commission would not carry that taint and would conduct the process of accountability in a transparent, above-the-board manner, not sparing any public officials, howsoever high his status, found to be corrupt and those deemed guilty of illegal gratification would be duly punished.