ISLAMABAD : Chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal on Saturday informed the Supreme Court of Pakistan that decision on corruption cases is not possible in 30 days due to the less number of accountability courts in the country. The Chairman NAB has submitted his response in the Supreme Court of Pakistan in a case pertaining to irregularities in Lakhra power plant. Justice (Retd) Javed Iqbal wrote a letter to the Supreme Court in response to an ongoing reference NAB has filed. In his reply, he said the government’s lack of cooperation is a hurdle. He wrote that each accountability court is hearing almost 50 cases at a time. Due to excessive cases, trials are delayed. The Chairman NAB has informed that apex court that proceedings on references that the bureau has filed have been delayed due to the number of accountability courts in the country. He believes this problem can be solved if more accountability courts are set up, but the government has not been cooperating with the bureau on the issue. “The anti-corruption watchdog has repeatedly informed the government about the delays in trials due to the excessive burden of cases. The bureau had also requested the government for the formation of additional courts in Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Balochistan,” he wrote in the letter. “That under section 16(a) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 a timeframe of 30 x days is set for conclusion of trial by the Court and it is required to conduct proceedings on day-to-day basis. However, with the present strength of Accountability Courts and the workload of cases pending adjudication before each Accountability Court, (on average each Accountability Court is currently handling 50 x References), it practically is impossible to adjudicate and finalize matters within 30 x days.” The NAB chairman believes this problem can be solved if more accountability courts are set up across the country. He further said that there are around 50 corruption cases in every accountability court at the moment. “We have to acquire services of retired judges to hear appeals if district and sessions judges are not available,” Iqbal wrote. “Miscellaneous petitions by suspects and stay orders by high courts also cause delay. High courts do not follow the apex court’s rules regarding bails. “The anti-graft body finds it difficult to explain the meaning of ‘political figures’ to international institutions due to wrong interpretation by courts. The top court has also barred the volunteer return of money. Many cases will not even reach courts if it is allowed.” “If district and sessions judges are not available then retired judges can be hired for the purpose,” the letter said. The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Monday criticised the National Accountability Bureau for its “lack of professionalism, expertise, and sincerity of cause” which it said was the reason behind “the conviction rate in NAB cases is abysmally low. In its 87-page written verdict by Justice Maqbool Baqir, the apex court said that it was an unfortunate fact that the people of Pakistan were not getting their constitutional rights despite the formation of the country since 72 years and its constitution since 47 years. “The law mandates investigations to be concluded expeditiously and trial to be concluded within 30 days,” reads the verdict.
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