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Supreme Court hears case on NAB’s voluntary return rules

Supreme Court hears case on NAB’s voluntary return rules

ISLAMABAD: A Supreme Court bench on Thursday heard a case on the voluntary return rules of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Three-member bench headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed heard the case.

Justice Azmat Saeed observed during the hearing that one of the questions to be decided is whether to discuss the previous decisions or not and another issue is the procedure of return of the amount while the third issue to be decided is if the amount is being returned by a government employee then what will be the procedure.

“There is also question of the division of powers,” Justice Saeed further said. “In the case division between the judicial and executive powers has to be made”.

An amicus curie in the case, Farooq H. Naek said that the relevant laws are also required to be reviewed.

Justice Saeed said that the court will review the earlier decisions separately. He said that an interpretation of the Article 175 is also needed in the case.

“In other countries the sentence of an accused is reduced over voluntary return, while here the NAB itself writes letters to offer the voluntary return (VR) option,” Justice Azmat said. “While the voluntary return means the accused himself offers return of money,” the court observed.

Senior Journalist Asad Kharal said Chairman NAB Justice (R) Javed Iqbal had agreed to give right of accepting VR option to the court. Justice Saeed said, “Do not present Chairman NAB’s discussion with you as an augment’.

Special prosecutor NAB Imranul Haq said a few accused returned only one installment of money and later on the court ordered to stop their installments.

Senior Journalist Asad Kharal said “I am the only person who is following this case”.  The court later adjourned the case proceedings till the third week of May.

In an earlier hearing the court had summoned the standard operating procedure (SOP) for plea bargain deals from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The apex court had earlier asked the parliament to amend the accountability law allowing voluntary return of plundered money by February or else the court would pass an appropriate order in this regard.

It may be mentioned here that the apex court had proposed two amendments to the NAB Ordinance of 1999 in November last year.

According to Section 25 of NAO, the NAB chairman, with the approval of any accountability court, can order the release of an accused found guilty of corruption after he/she enters into a plea bargain or an agreement by returning the misappropriated money to the bureau.