The federal government has initiated the process for the appointment of the new chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB), it emerged on Friday.
It has been learnt that Prime Minister Office (PMO) has instructed the law ministry to send a summary to the president for initiating the process regarding the appointment of the new chairman NAB.A senior official in the law ministry confirmed the development and stated that the draft is being finalised.
According to clause 5 of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999, “there shall be a Chairman, National Accountability Bureau to be appointed by the President in consultation with the Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly.
”It states that If there is no consensus on the name of the chairman, the names proposed by the leader of the House and the leader of the opposition shall be forwarded by the president to a parliamentary committee appointed under clause (iii), which may confirm any one name for appointment as chairman.
“The parliamentary committee under clause (ii) shall be constituted by the Speaker, National Assembly, comprising fifty per cent members from the Treasury benches and fifty per cent from the Opposition benches, based on their strength in Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament), to be nominated by the respective parliamentary leaders,” the clause stipulates.
The clause says that the total strength of the parliamentary committee shall be twelve members, out of which one third shall be from the Senate. “If the National Assembly is dissolved at the material time, all the members of the Committee shall be from the Senate.
“In view of the said law, the president will write a letter to both Prime Minister Imran Khan and Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif for the appointment of chairman NAB.
Firstly, he may ask the prime minister to share names, which could be shared with the opposition leader to seek his opinion.It has been learnt that one section within the government wants to retain incumbent Chairman NAB Javed Iqbal, who is stated to be in the good books of the ‘powerful circles’.
The same section had compelled the government to amend the law regarding the removal of chairman NAB.Earlier, Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan had convinced PM that in order to ensure fairness, the NAB chairman should be removed by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) a constitutional forum to initiate the process of misconduct against superior courts judges as well as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) members.
However, within a month, another ordinance was promulgated wherein it is said that the president is authorized to remove chairman NAB.Subsequently, the AGP strongly objected to this amendment and suggested that matters related to amendments in NAB law be referred to the Parliament.
Now the matter is pending in the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice for consideration.
Sources privy to the development said that senior PTI leaders, including the AGP, believe that mere extension of the incumbent NAB chief and the process regarding new appointment could not be prolonged as its effect the performance of the anti-corruption watchdog.Likewise, senior PTI leaders including PM are concerned over delays in the trial of high profile cases.
A senior PTI lawmaker expressed apprehensions that it seems that NAB is not keen to ensure the conviction of opposition leaders, especially Shehbaz SharifIn the meanwhile, Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) and Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) have engaged renowned lawyer Salman Akram Raja to challenge the amendments in NAO 1999.
It is learnt that petition has been drafted and the same would be filed soon.