Although there had been a lot of criticism on the dignity and role of the National Accountability Bureau by the opposition parties, the Supreme Court on Monday itself raised question on the credibility of NAB in Paragan Housing Society case against Khawaja brothers of PML-N and stated that the Bureau’s conduct in the said matter had been a clear demonstration of utter disdain to the law, fair play, equity and propriety. Justice Maqbool Baqar wrote an 87-page detailed verdict in the case that stated that the NAB had trampled the fundamental rights by depriving the accused persons from freedom and liberty and subjugated human dignity; guaranteed to the Pakistani citizens by the Constitution.
Khawaja Saad Rafique and his brother Khawaja Suleman Rafique were granted bail on March 17 this year against the surety bonds of Rs. 3 million each. Justice Baqar had taken up the post-arrest bail plea of the Khawaja brothers after the Lahore High Court rejected their bail application on June 18 last year
Justice Baqar regretted in the verdict that it was frequently alleged that NAB was being used for political engineering and its discriminatory approach was negatively affecting its image among the people and had certainly snatched away the faith of people in its credibility and impartiality. The court observed that the bureau was busy in arresting and incarcerating the opposition leaders for months and years without providing evidence against them but on the other side it did not take any action against the members of ruling party even in the massive financial scams.
NAB seems to be quite active against the opposition leaders but does not move against the government members, Justice Baqar
Justice Baqar stated that it was not wrong for the NAB to step up for curbing the corruption and sleaze however a legal and constitutional method should have been adopted in this regard. He added that the law did not allow any institution to use the power of arrest as a tool of threatening and harassment against any person. The authorities were bound to justify the arrest of a person through prima facie evidence that could prove the person’s connection with the offence.
The court emphasized that until proven guilty, the person was assumed to be innocent and importantly the burden of proof was on the prosecution in a criminal case. It further added that presumption of innocence was imperious to secure people’s confidence in the fairness, integrity and impartiality of the criminal justice system.
The judgment also read that the dignity of man was the foremost right guaranteed by the Constitution that could not be circumscribed in any situation. It further added that the pre-arrest confinement always brought ignominy and humiliation not only to the accused but also to his family and near ones. It also gave irreparable loss and damage to a person’s repute and worth in the society bringing him hate, venom and disgrace. He further asked whether the NAO allowed the bureau to arrest and detain the accused (Khawaja Brothers) for fifteen months without any known basis?
Does NAO allow the bureau to arrest and incarcerate the accused for fifteen months without any known basis?, Justice Baqar regrets
Justice Baqar regretted that corruption, misconduct and malpractice in governance had severely got into our society and none of the state institutions was free from these menaces. He added that it was quite unfortunate for the country that misuse of power was being exercised at personal and institutional level.