‘Judges, generals be held accountable under common law’

ISLAMABAD – Justice Dost Muhammad Khan has said that judges and generals should also be held accountable and their trial should be held under the law meant for ordinary citizens.

A two-judge bench comprising Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and Justice Qazi Faez Isa on Thursday heard the NAB appeal against the Peshawar High Court’s verdict on illegal procurement of weapons by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police. The bench after hearing the arguments dismissed the appeal.

Justice Dost said that the Chairman Senate and some senators were annoyed to exclude judges and generals from the new accountability law. Special Prosecutor General (SPG) Imran-ul-Haq informed that still the bill has not become a law.

Parliamentary Committee on the National Accountability Law on November 2, 2017, agreed that the generals and judges would not come under the purview of accountability laws. The year-long process of drafting the accountability law was intended to bring generals and judges under the ambit of the National Accountability Bureau. However, the Pakistan People’s Party withdrew its suggestion of accountability of judges and generals under the new law.

Justice Dost said there should be accountability of everyone as no one is above the law. He asked the SPG that the NAB should not adopt policies which annoy the people and they start cursing the Bureau or ask the parliamentarians to abolish it. He said it is his personal opinion that the judges and generals should also be held accountable like other citizens. The action should be initiated against them as well in a transparent manner.

Justice Dost remarked that the NAB has filed the reference without the approval of Prosecutor General. SPG Imran informed that since November 23 the NAB had sent a summary to the Ministry of Law and Justice for appointment of a Prosecutor General. He, however, told that the approval for the reference was obtained from erstwhile PG.

National Accountability Bureau, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in March 2014 had filed a Rs2.03 billion corruption reference over high-profile weapon procurement with a local accountability court.

Among the 10 people named in the reference for embezzlement and irregularities were ex-provincial police officer, the commandant of Frontier Constabulary (FC) and former chief minister Ameer Haider Hoti’s brother.

They were involved in alleged embezzlement in procurement of SMG (semi machine guns), magazine, ammunition, heavy weapons, bulletproof jackets, night vision goggles etc, in 2008-09 and 2009-10 by violating government rules thus causing a loss of Rs2.03 billion to the exchequer.

Arshad Majeed, a private contractor, a major character of the scam who was awarded lucrative contracts during purchase of weapons and other items for police, was arrested on Feb 21, 2013, but was released on bail by the Peshawar High Court after he agreed to voluntarily return Rs102 million.

When the Accountability Court, KP, decided to frame the charges against the accused then Suleman Khan, ex-CPO Peshawar Kashif Alam and Sadiq Kamal Orakzai, Deputy Commandant National Police Academy filed the writ petition in the Peshawar High Court, which directed the trial court not to frame charges against them. The NAB therefore filed the appeal in the apex court against the PHC order.

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