LHC issues notice to NAB on Chaudhries’ petition

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From Abid Usman

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday admitted for hearing a petition filed by PML-Q leaders Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi against the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman.
After a preliminary hearing, a bench of the LHC issued notices to NAB chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal and other respondents to come up with their response to the petition by the next hearing slated for May 11.
Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and other PML-Q leaders were in attendance during the hearing.
The petitioners alleged in their petition that the bureau is an institution of political engineering.
The anti-graft watchdog’s head has ordered a probe into a 19-year-old case against them, despite the fact that the bureau had carried out an inquiry into it almost two decades back but couldn’t find anything incriminating, they said.
The petitioners contended that the NAB chairman lacks the authority to reopen a matter that has already been closed and pleaded with the LHC bench to declare void his orders in this regard.
The Lahore High Court on Thursday issued a notice to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in a plea challenging the authority of the probe body chairman and his right to reopen two decades old inquiry. PML-Q leaders Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervez Elahi had filed a petition in the high court, alleging that the anti-graft watchdog was an institution of political engineering and raised questions on its investigative authority. In addition, the plea requested the court to declare the reopening of an almost two-decade-old case by the authority as illegal.
A two-member bench of the LHC heard the case today, where Speaker Punjab Assembly Pervez Elahi appeared before it. The LHC subsequently issued a notice to the accountability watchdog for May 11. In the petition, the seasoned politicians underlined that the courts have earlier ruled on the NAB’s role and erroneous methods of investigation.
“In the year 2000, the then chairman of the respondent bureau proceeded to authorize investigation against the petitioners on the allegations of misuse of authority, assets beyond means and wilful default under the National Accountability Ordinance 1999,” they stated in three identical petitions filed through Advocate Amjad Pervez. The petitioners, who are an important ally to the government, argued that the establishment of the NAB, its credibility, partiality and use for political engineering has been a matter of heated debate not only by all political parties but also by human rights organizations and intelligentsia both at the national and international level.
They said the conduct of the bureau and the manner in which its officials use authority has also been judicially noticed by the superior courts of the country in a number of cases.