Law ministry preparing summary for NAB chief extension

Shahid Aslam Special Correspondent - Lahore

01st Oct, 2021. 01:37 pm

LAHORE: The Ministry of Law and Justice would soon send a summary to Prime Minister Imran Khan about the extension of the term, or otherwise, for the sitting chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) retired Justice Javed Iqbal for another term of four years.

After months of deliberations over the fate of chairman NAB, the federal government is set to make a final call on the matter, Bol News has learnt.

Informed sources on the matter in Islamabad told Bol News that the ministry, led by Federal Law Minister Farogh Naseem, had finalized a draft proposal that would be sent to the PM so that he could decide on it.

According to a senior government official, the ministry was working on a draft proposal as chairman NAB’s term would end in a week, and under the existing law, his tenure could not be extended.

Section-6(b) of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) Ordinance 1999 reads, “There shall be a Chairman NAB to be appointed by the president in consultation with the [Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly] for a [non-extendable] period of [four] years on such terms and conditions as may be determined by the President and shall not be removed except on the grounds of removal of a judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.”

“Once the prime minister agreed to any such drafts, the president would immediately promulgate an ordinance.”

“In case the PM decides to grant an extension to the NAB chairman, the law ministry will draft an ordinance to amend the NAO and forward it to the president,” said the sources, adding that after promulgation, this would become a law, enabling the government to give an extension to Justice Iqbal.

In case, PM Imran decides to grant an extension to Justice Iqbal, an amendment would be made in sub-section b of section-6 of the NAO, sources continued.

The proposal suggested that the terms “non-extendable” may be substituted with the word “extendable” in the section mentioned to give the NAB chairman an extension.

According to sources, it is likely that through the very ordinance, Justice Iqbal would be asked to continue as the bureau’s chairman till the appointment of his successor.

It may be relevant to mention here that Justice Iqbal was appointed chairman NAB on October 8, 2017, following a consensus between the then prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and leader of the opposition in the National Assembly (NA) Syed Khursheed Shah.

Earlier, Law Minister Naseem had rejected media reports and clarified that his ministry had not drafted an ordinance to extend the tenure of Justice Iqbal as the NAB chief.

He said that it was the PM’s prerogative to pick a person for the post of the head of the anti-corruption watchdog and that he could only give his advice on the issue. The minister said that the premier had more names for the post, and would pick whoever he deemed fit for the slot.

PTI will not approach Shehbaz Sharif

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry told the media that the government would not consult the opposition leader in the NA Shehbaz Sharif regarding the appointment of chairman NAB as he was facing graft charges in an accountability court.

According to Chaudhry, consulting Shehbaz over the matter was similar to asking a suspect to choose his interrogating officer himself.

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