ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the NAB to arrest all the persons, including incumbent Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, involved in Rental Power Plants (RPPs) scam and submit report tomorrow (Thursday).The court directed NAB Additional Prosecutor General Rana Zahid Mehmood “to get approved the challans/references against all the accused persons and to cause their arrest without any hesitation and submit report on January 17.”Giving a 24 hours deadline to the authorities to implement the orders, the a three-member bench being led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry maintained that National Accountability Bureau (NAB) will be responsible if any of the 16 accused manage to escape.The court order came as Dr Tahirul Qadri was addressing participants of a sit-in he is leading in front of the Parliament House and which has taken the county by storm. As he learnt of this development in the middle of his address, Qadri congratulated the attendants, creating an impression as if it was a result of their protest.The timing of the court decision also led many analysts to believe that it was linked to Qadri’s agenda and part of a bigger plan to dislodge the government and installation of a government of technocrats or imposition of martial law by the establishment.However, the history and the current facts about this mega corruption scam belie all such claims. Moreover, the chief justice allayed the fears by stating in clear terms the same day that “elections will be held on time”, as he heard another case pertaining to introduction of reforms in the electoral process.The RPPs contracts were awarded to the various companies in violation of laws when Raja Pervaiz Ashraf was minister of Water and Power. And the apex court had announced an interim judgement in March, 2012 when he was not a prime minster. In that judgment, the court directed NAB chairman to proceed against the ministers and secretaries holding charge of Water and Power ministry in 2006 and onward and from 2008 to onward, the periods when the RPPs were approved/set up and also against the minister as well as secretary of finance ministry holding the charge when the down payment was increased from 7 percent to 14 percent.The NAB had been using delaying tactics and no significant progress was made while the court kept pressing the bureau to implement its order and hold transparent investigations. Tuesday’s hearing was also fixed as per schedule and the apparent tough court decision was taken at the due input of the Additional Prosecutor General (APG) and the NAB.The NAB investigation officers Asghar Khan and Kamran Faisal probed the RPPs Piraghaib and Techno Sahuwal and filed challans against Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and 15 others in Case No.2(3-RPP)/SOD/2012/NAB and Mr Shahid Rafi and 21 others in case No2(4-RPP) /SOD/2012/NAB.During Tuesday’s proceedings the APG informed that reference was filed against former Water and Power minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and secretary Shahid Rafiq; former Finance Minister Shaukat Tareen and secretary Salman Siddique; former Pepco chairman Ismail Qureshi; and Munawar Baseer Ahmed, Tahir Basharat, Fazal Ahmed Khan, Rafiq Butt, Muhammad Anwar Khan, Qaisar Akram and Maqsood Akhtar.The chief justice questioned how many persons have been arrested and how much money has been recovered. The APG said that NAB has recovered Rs2.36billion out of Rs11 billion. When asked about progress report of implementation of the March 2012 judgment, the newly-appointed APG asked the court to issue order for the arrest of people against whom the challans have been submitted in the RPPs case.On this, the chief justice questioned as to why the court should issue such order and asked whether the NAB was incapable of arresting them. The APG said that they were investigating and collecting more evidences against the accused. The chief justice questioned what more evidences NAB require as the advance money was given for the same machinery in Guddu and when that machinery was shifted to Naudero again the money was charged.The court noted that it appears that prima facie the investigating officers are not being allowed to ensure the implementation of the judgment of this court in letter and spirit. The CJ made clear to the NAB chairman “If any accused involved in these cases succeeded in making good his escape from the country, he will be personally responsible for the same” and action would be taken against him.The APG told the court that they have already put their names on the ECL. The chief justice remarked that there was no benefit of putting their names on ECL as Shahrukh Jatoi, who allegedly killed Shahzeb Khan in Karachi, and Ogra scam accused Tauqir Sadiq escaped from the country despite their names being on the ECL.Suspended NAB Rawalpindi DG Col (r) Subeh Sadiq appeared and said that the authorities have suspended him by misusing the name of Supreme Court. He stated that he has 36 years of unblemished service to his credit and he has been maligned and disgraced on the pretext that the Supreme Court was unhappy with his performance.Raja Amir Abbas, counsel for the investigation officers to whom the notices for contempt have been issued, pointed out that on 7-1-2013 Brig (r) Principal Secretary to NAB Chairman Farooq Naser Awan has issued a letter stating that “IO’s under contempt be removed from these cases since Supreme Court of Pakistan also does not appear happy with their performance.”The court said that they were led to believe by the Principal Secretary that such action has been taken against the IOs on the recommendations of the DG. The court observed that NAB chairman is already under contempt notice for non-compliance of the judgment in the RPP cases and copy of the same had been delivered to him in the month of March, 2012, therefore, he should have been careful, “however, under the circumstances, we issue notice to NAB chairman to explain as to why he has falsely used the name of the Supreme Court” with a view to remove the IOs namely, Asghar Ali and Kamran Faisal. The case was adjourned until Thursday.PM Ashraf was given the title of Raja Rental after he was accused of receiving kickbacks in the rental power projects. Of the 19 RPP deals signed initially, only nine were allowed to function after a damning Asian Development Bank evaluation report. Subsequently, six of those nine RPPs were discontinued. The prime minister was also accused of buying property in London from money earned through corruption in various scams.Following the Supreme Court orders, a private TV channel quoted sources as saying that the prime minister has summoned a meeting of close ministers for consultations. Sources said Raja was waiting for the detailed Supreme Court order after which he would consult President Asif Ali Zardari.The ripples caused by the court decision deepened the uncertainty of country’s political environment and the Karachi Stock Exchange fell by nearly three percent. In an apparent reaction to this decision, shops were closed in Sukkur and aerial firing was reported in Hyderabad.Speaking to reporters, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the Supreme Court order was unexpected. Law Minister Farooq Naek was quoted as saying that the Supreme Court order did not mention Prime Minister Ashraf. Information Qamar Zaman Kaira told a TV channel that Prime Minister Ashraf and the Law Ministry had not received the written order of the Supreme Court. Kaira added that people would not let democracy be derailed.