NAB violated law over Khawar’s appointment: Expert

ISLAMABAD  –  The National Accountability Bureau violated its own law by appointing Shah Khawar as a special prosecutor without a prosecutor general, says a legal expert. 

Section 8(C) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, says, “The prosecutor general accountability, with the approval of chairman NAB, may appoint special prosecutors to conduct prosecution of cases and to appoint advocates to institute or defend cases, appeals, petitions, applications and all other matters before any court or tribunal, including high courts and the Supreme Court, in the matters arising out of, or relating to, proceedings under this ordinance.” 

The prosecutor general has not so far been appointed although the NAB had sent a list of five persons for the appointment of the prosecutor general. 

Former NAB deputy prosecutor general Raja Amir Abbas, while talking to The Nation, said the chairman or anyone else cannot appoint special prosecutor for this power under Section 8 (C) lies with the prosecutor general. 

He said there is a judgment of the Supreme Court that the government or state institutions cannot engage private lawyers to contest their cases in the courts. 

The apex court, in a judgment in February 2017, declared “improper” the government practice of engaging private counsels to plead their cases in courts. “This practice must stop,” wrote Justice Qazi Faez Isa in a 19-page judgment. 

“Paying the fee of private advocates constitutes financial impropriety by the person who pays on behalf of the government, subjecting him/her to disciplinary action in accordance with the applicable law,” the verdict said. 

The NAB appointed Shah Khawar as a special prosecutor on December 12. But its special prosecutor general Imranul Haq who is appearing in the Hudaibiya case told media persons it was wrong that Shah Khawar was appointed as a special prosecutor. He added had he been appointed, he would have been present in the court. 

NAB PRO Nawazish Ali told The Nation that Shah Khawar had been appointed only for Hudaibiya case.  

In the last two hearings, Shah Khawar remained present during the proceedings of Hudaibiya case but on Wednesday’s hearing he was not present. 

Justice (r) Khawar was appointed against the post on an immediate basis, according to a press release issued by the bureau. It stated the NAB was facing difficulty in pursuing high-profile cases, including Hudaibiya Paper Mills reference, in the Supreme Court and accountability courts due to the absence of prosecutor general accountability. 

Khawar is a former judge of the Lahore High Court as well as a senior advocate of the Supreme Court. He has also served as deputy attorney general and assistant advocate general. 

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