NAB can look into judges’ matters with criminal overtones: SAPM

ISLAMABAD   -   Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Ac­countability, Irfan Qadir, has said matters of supe­rior court judges could be referred to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) if they have criminal overtones or an element of corruption.

“The National Accountability Ordinance has the jurisdiction and NAB can be referred to … there is no sacred cow for this law,” Qadir said this while addressing a press conference here yesterday.

Qadir’s remarks come at a time when Parliament has passed a law to curtail the suo motu powers of the chief justice through the Supreme Court (Prac­tice and Procedure) Act, 2023.

“There is only one category,” Qadir said. “And that is our superior court judges for whom confusion was creat­ed [with regard to laws].” He added: “It was said that their matters were to be referred to the Supreme Judi­cial Council (SJC). Today I want to clarify that, yes, [judg­es’] matters do go to the SJC. However, where there are elements of corruption that attract criminality — that require criminal proceedings — it is there that they can be tried under this [accountability] law.”

Qadir said that in the past several years, even as prime ministers were disqualified and their governments were lost, “our Supreme Court ordered that their cases should be referred to NAB, who should investigate them and file references [against the PMs]”.

“Superior court judges’ matters will definitely be re­ferred to the SJC, and if there are criminal overtones and an element of corruption … NAB has jurisdiction and they can look into it. There is no sacred cow [for] this law.”

The former attorney-general also spoke about audios circulated on social media in February, allegedly linked to a sitting Supreme Court judge. The leaked audios were claimed to contain conversations between the judge and prominent politicians as well as specific law­yers. On May 20, the government had formed a three-judge commission under Justice Qazi Faez Isa to inves­tigate the veracity of the clips. Within days, a five-judge bench of the apex court halted the panel’s proceedings.

Qadir added that it appeared that the judicial system was being “manipulated by certain people on the out­side” and that “there were indications of an element of corruption”. He asked judges to appear before the audio leaks commission case where fellow judges were mem­bers of the judicial commission. He alleged that a few judges of the Supreme Court are not even following the decisions of the Parliament.

He claimed that 190 million pounds were brought to Pakistan that they belonged to the state, but that money went to an individual.

Considering these matters, he said, the government exercised extreme caution to form the commission comprising fellow judges to investigate the matter.

“This was a fair opportunity provided to the judges to prove their innocence. If the commission’s report had come out favourable then the matter would not have been referred to the supreme judicial council or the an­ti-corruption institutions,” Qadir said.

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