ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday extended its restraining order to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) from taking any “coercive measure” against Director General (DG) NAB Lahore Maj (Retd) Shahzad Saleem in the matter of sexual harassment.

A single bench of IHC comprising Acting Chief Justice of IHC Justice Aamer Farooq conducted hearing of the petition and also issued notices to the respondents including Secretary National Assembly and PAC and sought their arguments over the maintainability of the petition moved by DG (NAB) Lahore against the summons issued to him by the PAC to answer sexual harassment charges against him as well as former NAB chairman Justice (Retd) Javed Iqbal by a woman Tayyaba Gul.

During the hearing, the IHC bench said that there was no problem if the PAC summoned the petitioner in matter pertaining to the accounts. It observed that the PAC could only proceed in cases which fall under the ‘domain of finance’. He said that the question was that whether the PAC was authorised to hear such matters other than the accounts.

Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Arshad Kayani said that the PAC could hear any complaint regarding the public interest. At this, Justice Aamer remarked that the PAC could hear only the finance matters in public domain. He further said that every institution whether it is Parliament or judiciary has its own respect.

Then, the DAG requested the court to grant permission to present the minutes of the last PAC meeting and requested the court to view the answers submitted by the petitioners to PAC.

At this juncture, the DG NAB’s counsel argued that his client had no hesitation to appear before the PAC. The court said that there is no problem if NAB officials are called in finance related cases but when there is an issue of jurisdiction, the court has to monitor it.

Later, the IHC bench sought arguments from the respondents and adjourned the hearing till August 11 for further proceedings.

In this matter, the DG NAB moved the IHC through his counsel Safdar Shaheen Pirzada Advocate and cited federation through Secretary National Assembly (NA), Chairman Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Secretary PAC and additional secretary PAC as respondents and requested the court to declare the notice issued to as illegal.

The petitioner stated that the PAC issued an office memorandum whereby it was intimated that a meeting of the PAC is scheduled to be held on 07.07.2022 to discuss the agenda of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) ie “Comprehensive briefing on the Recoveries” made by NAB with reference to meeting of the PAC held on 07.06.2022 communicated to NAB vide a letter dated 21.06 2022 while the petitioner was again summoned for 14.07.2022 (verbally).

He said that it is pertinent to mention here that the contents of said complaint/application are irrelevant to matters and the PAC meeting, same has no connection, whatsoever, with the formal transaction of business as detailed in agenda; hence, the same is required to be excluded by the respondents being ultra-vires of their jurisdiction and legal peripheries.

The DG NAB adopted the stance that it is quite relevant to submit here that the said applicant has already filed an application on 07.02.2022 with the Accountability court containing same set of facts and allegations for summoning NAB Officers in person and seeking a direction to NAB for initiating criminal proceedings against complainants, witnesses and all officials.

He said that the applicant also sought a direction to NAB for referring the matter to the Accountability Court under Section 18(h) of NAO, 1999 and prayed for their conviction accordingly.

Shahzad said that Accountability Court No.1 has taken cognizance of said application and matter being subjudice before the court of competent jurisdiction.

He contended that any parallel proceedings shall be equivalent to stampede the jurisdiction of the Accountability Court. He said that it is worthwhile to submit here that the allegations levelled in Application/complaint filed before the Chairman PAC are also subjudice and pending determination before the Federal Shariat Court, Islamabad.

The DG NAB argued that the impugned Memorandum issued by the PAC is illegal, ultra-vires, without jurisdiction, void ab initio and is liable to be set aside.

The DG maintained that a bare perusal of Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business, in the National Assembly, 2007 reveals that the Public Accounts Committee has issued the impugned Memorandum in clear contravention of the prescribed Rules and against the spirit of the Constitution which merits kind indulgence of this court.

Therefore, he prayed that the impugned Memorandum issued by the PAC in excess of their jurisdiction and proceedings thereof may kindly be declared illegal, void ab initio, ultra vires, of no legal effect and may kindly be set aside, in the interest of justice and fair play.

He prayed that till the adjudication and final decision of the main writ petition by this court, operation of the impugned Office Memorandum dated 28.06.2022 and proceedings thereof may kindly be suspended.