The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday levelled severe criticism at the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for its “double standards” and questioned why the corruption watchdog has become “politicised”.
A three-member bench of the apex court made the remarks after hearing a petition for bail filed by the Sindh Ministry of Information’s Section Officer, Sarang Latif.
After turning down the petitioner’s bail request, the bench severely censured NAB.
“It seems as if NAB is in no mood to proceed with this trial,” Justice Gulzar Ahmed remarked, before asking: “Who is the prosecutor for this case?”
An additional prosecutor told the judge that the lead prosecutor is from Karachi and he did not know his name.
“[This] is a case concerning [corruption to the tune of] Rs5 billion,” Justice Gulzar said in exasperation. “It looks like the local prosecutor takes his money, shows up in court and leaves [without accomplishing anything].”
Justice Qazi Faez Isa remarked that “NAB’s conduct is not the same in every case.”
“In some cases NAB goes the extra mile, but in others it does not seem to care,” he added. “Why is NAB getting politicised?”
Justice Gulzar also accused NAB of “colluding” with its targets and asked why it so often offers plea bargains.
“NAB does not seem to want to do anything; it has put everyone in misery,” he said. “Millions of rupees of this nation are spent on NAB. Has it ever accomplished anything other than plea bargains? Let us know just one case where it has made a recovery.”
At this, Justice Isa suggested that a case should be registered against “the top officials of NAB” for their handling of the Mushtaq Ahmad Raisani case, from whose Quetta residence more than Rs730 million had been recovered in 2016.
“NAB wanted to strike a plea bargain even with a person from whose home billions were recovered,” he recalled.
“NAB should make follow some principle in [pursuing] its cases; it does things its own way in every case.”
Justice Gulzar further recalled that when the Supreme Court rejected bail requests in the Raisani case, NAB had approached subordinate courts and secured bail anyway.
“[Even when] the Supreme Court turns down bail petitions, the accused gets out in two months,” he noted.