SC snubs NAB counsel

ISLAMABAD - A three-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani on Monday snubbing the counsel for National Accountability Bureau (NAB) directed to come up prepared on next hearing to plead four corruption references against former interior minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao. When the bench took up NABs appeals against acquittal of Aftab Sherpao in four corruption references by the Peshawar High Court as well as a Supreme Court bench headed by former de facto chief justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, NABs counsel sought adjournment, stating that he was not informed about fixation of the case for Monday, thus he was not prepared to argue the case. The court, however, adjourned further hearing till Sep 29. In July 2008, a three-member Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, Justice Chaudhry Ejaz Yousaf and Justice Sheikh Hakim Ali had dismissed NABs appeals and acquitted Sherpao in four corruption references by giving benefit of the National Reconciliation Ordinance 2007 (NRO). The bench while hearing NABs appeals against the Peshawar High Court order of exonerating Sherpao and Zahir Shah, former director-general of Peshawar Development Authority, from the corruption charges in which they were convicted earlier by the accountability court, had also acquitted Zahir Shah, also a co-accused in corruption references against Sherpao. Aftab Sherpao, who also served as the NWFP chief minister, was convicted by the accountability court in the famous Hayatabad Plot Allotment Case on December 31, 1999, but his appeal was later accepted by the PHC which acquitted him. Consequently, NAB came into appeal before the apex court against the acquittal. The charge against Aftab Sherpao was that being a chief minister he abused his discretion by illegally allotting plots in the Hayatabad Township Scheme. He was also acquitted in another reference pertaining to illegal appointments in the frontier education department. He was also accused of inflicting a loss of Rs 310.067 million to the state exchequer by fraudulently fixing compensation of the land acquired for the Ring Road project at inflated rates. Promulgated by then President Pervez Musharraf on October 5, 2007, the NRO was issued on the demand of slain PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto to provide amnesty to public office holders charged in different corruption cases from 1986 to 1999. However after the Supreme Court declared the NRO unconstitutional in 2009, the cases were revived.

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