ISLAMABAD: On November 9, 2018, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had issued a press release conveying incumbent NAB Chairman Javed Iqbal’s direction for initiation of Bureau’s action against “frivolous complaints” received by the anti-graft body.
The press release clearly read, “During the Inquiry process, accused and complainant are called for recording of their statements in line with the alleged allegations and available evidence. Moreover, the accused is provided ample opportunity to defend and provide documents in his defence and further confronted with thedocumentary evidences of his alleged corruption and corrupt practices as per law.”
It added that “complaint verification (CV) is a mechanism provided by NAB’s operational methodology to ward off malicious and frivolous complaints by way of preliminary scrutiny so that prior to inquiry, it is ascertained that it would cause no undue harm to the alleged.”
In March 2020, NAB and its chairman acted against Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, Editor-in-Chief of Jang/Geo Group, in total breach of what the Bureau had publicly announced in November 2018.
The NAB press release, which can be accessed at http://nab.gov.pk/press/new.asp?1620 was issued within weeks after Javed Iqbal’s appointment as Bureau’s chairman.
The press release discussed the process of complaint verification and unambiguously stated that the accused is called for recording his statement at the inquiry stage but only after the complaint gets through the complaint verification level.
In negation to what NAB had publicly announced, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was not only called at the Complaint Verification stage but was arrested too before even the authorisation of inquiry.
In 2018, the NAB chairman had assured that the accused even at the inquiry stage will be provided ample opportunity to defend and provide documents in his defence. However, such an opportunity was not provided to Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman even at the Complaint Verification stage.
The Jang/Geo Group Editor-in-Chief was arrested at the Complaint Verification stage whereas the NAB press released had stated that this stage was meant to ward off malicious and frivolous complaints so that “prior to inquiry, it is ascertained that it would cause not harm to the alleged”.
For the interest of the readers, the Nov 9, 2018, press release of NAB is reproduced below:
“ISLAMABAD, Nov 9, 2018: On the directions of Honorable Justice Mr. Javed Iqbal Chairman NAB, NAB has started to proceed against complainants who lodge frivolous complaints to NAB, with any motivation beyond law or loaded interests or with intent to cause malice to others under section 18-h of National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), 1999 which states:
If a complaint is inquired into and investigated by NAB and it is concluded that the complaint received was prima facie frivolous or has been filed with the intent or malign and defame any person, the Chairman NAB, may refer the matter to the court and if the complainant is found guilty he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine or with both.
“However, NAB would encourage genuine complainants who lodge their complaints on the basis of solid evidence and documents that prima facie suggest commission of offences of corruption and corrupt practice. “According to NAB’s operational methodology, after receipt of application, complaint verification of complaint is conducted to ascertain genuineness and veracity of the contents of complaint by calling complainant who submits affidavit to that effect. Also, complaint verification (CV) is a mechanism provided by NAB’s operational methodology to ward off malicious and frivolous complaints by way of preliminary scrutiny so that prior to inquiry, it is ascertained that it would cause no undue harm to the alleged. All the complainants have to submit an undertaking that their complaint is not frivolous and undertaking signed by the complainant. Subsequent to this, two months process of Complaint Verification, an inquiry is authorized if complaint is found out to be genuine and worthy of probing it further on the basis of some incriminating evidence. During the Inquiry process, Accused and complainant are called for recording of their statements in line with the alleged allegations and available evidence. Moreover, the accused is provided ample opportunity to defend and provide documents in his defence and further confronted with the documentary evidences of his alleged corruption and corrupt practices as per law.
“The inquiry process is completed in four months time period. After inquiry, if the case is found worthy of incriminating evidence as per law and is found to proceed ahead, inquiry is upgraded into investigation, which is also completed in four months. During the investigation process, complaint and incriminating solid evidence is further secularized, consolidated and deliberated in NAB’s Operation and Prosecution Divisions and investigation report complete in all respect including clear role of the accused in the offence, allegations and due to his misuse of authority/ corruption and corrupt practices, how much loss has been caused to national exchequer is worked out and then presented in pre- Executive Board Meeting.
“During the Pre-Executive Board Meeting (EBM), further scrutiny is made of the documents, inquiry and investigation reports after thread bear [sic] discussion and recommended for presentation in Executive Board Meeting which is higher consultative forum of NAB.
“The cases on the basis of incriminating solid evidence are finally presented in Executive Board of NAB for final approval for filling [sic] of reference after investigation. In EBM all concerned DGs, DG Operations and Prosecutor General (PGA), APGAs and seniors [sic] officers of NAB discuss the cases in detail on the basis of collective wisdom and accordingly Executive Board make [sic] decisions under the chairmanship of Honorable Justice Javed Iqbal as per law.
“It is important to mention here that NAB is the only apex Anti Corruption Organization in the world that has prescribed 10 months time frame for logical conclusion of white collar cases whereas there is no any other such organization in the world dealing with white collar crimes has prescribed time frame of 10 months. The time frame of 10 months although is very short but NAB has perfected its procedures and geared up to come up to the expectations of the nation to have logical conclusion of white collar cases within 10 months period that otherwise continue for years and years.”
Newspaper: The News