By Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: The monitoring mechanism reflected in the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment for the accountability courts is well within the parameters of judicial functions of the Supreme Court and a practice that is going on for years.
However, the judgment has been grossly misinterpreted by some to show that it amounts to interference in the functions of the executive branch.
Independent sources in the Law Ministry confided to The News that all the special courts, set up in the past or are functioning right now in Pakistan, have been and are being monitored and supervised by the apex court, which adopts such monitoring mechanism to ensure that cases pending before the courts concerned do not get delayed unnecessarily.
The sources believe that those feeling uneasy with the monitoring mechanism announced in the Dec 16 judgment for the accountability courts are deliberately creating confusion to prove this judgment as a move by judiciary to interfere in the executive functions.
These sources said such elements are said to be oblivious of the fact that a similar monitoring mechanism is working in the apex court for anti-terrorist courts.
Even for high courts and the subordinate judiciary, a comprehensive monitoring mechanism is presently in place as part of the national judicial policy to ensure quick disposal of cases and to clear the backlog.
Following the government’s complaint that the terrorism cases are not timely pursued and result in increase in terrorism, the present Supreme Court under Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had set up an effective monitoring system to keep a vigilant eye on the anti-terrorist courts so that no unnecessary delay could occur in such cases.
Under this monitoring scheme, Justice Javed Iqbal serves as a monitor for anti-terrorism courts of Sindh; Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday oversees the ATCs in Frontier; Justice Nasirul Mulk supervises the Balochistan ATCs; and Justice Sardar Raza Khan is monitoring the performance of the Punjab ATCs.
Neither anyone had objected to this monitoring mechanism for the ATCs nor was any objection raised for such overseeing strategies adopted in the past for the special courts during the last three decades. However, the sources said a vested interest group is deliberately trying to create confusion for the monitoring mechanism evolved for the accountability courts by the Supreme Court.
In its latest judgment, which has unnerved many powerful and mighty in the government, the Supreme Court clearly said this mechanism is evolved to “monitor the progress and the proceedings in (NAB) cases”.
Since the NRO beneficiaries and their sympathisers were generally complaining that the cases terminated under the condemned NRO remained undecided for over 10 years, this mechanism was evolved to address these complaints and ensure the NAB accused get quick justice.
The NAB has been condemned by the NRO beneficiaries while the Supreme Court also found its incumbent chairman, the prosecutor general and the deputy prosecutor general incompetent. Therefore, the apex court judgment directed the Bureau to transmit periodical reports of the actions taken by them with regard to NAB cases to the Monitoring Cell of the apex court set up following the same order.
Interestingly, similar directions were given to all the provincial governments under the national judicial policy to ensure that the challans in criminal cases, pending before the lower or superior judiciary, are submitted by prosecution within the stipulated time period to avoid unnecessary delays in dispensing justice.
In a remarkable judgment by 17 member bench headed by Iftikhar Chaudhary, Supreme Court of Pakistan has declared NRO as unconstitutional from the day of issuance.
As a result of this judgment all the cases closed by NRO are reinstated on the positions of 5th October, the day General (R) Musharraf issued the order of National Reconciliation Ordnance (NRO).
According to the judgment of SC 17 member bench the NRO is contrary to the equality of all citizens in front of the law guaranteed by the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan.
The historic judgment also says:
1) All the High Courts will make sure that cases reopened by this judgment get a fair trial, proper investigation and proper legal procedure.
2) Government is responsible to pursue the cases in Swiss court against Asif Ali Zardari and team.
3) NAB Chairman, Prosecutor General and Deputy Prosecutor General to be sacked and replaced by some other persons.
4) Government needs to take action against former Attorney General, Justice (R) Malik Qayum for writing unauthorized letter to Swiss court to withdraw cases against Asif Zardari.
During the proceedings Chief Justice also made clear that even parliament has no right to change the basic structure of the constitution.
The court has also shown displeasure on Acting Attorney General Shah Khawar and said he hide the truth.
The judgment is welcomed by a majority of legal community and civil society considering it another milestone towards to goal of real independent judiciary and rule of law.
Finally the ever awaited list of National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) is out which has names of 8,041 beneficiaries out of which only 34 are politicians and rest are from bureaucracy , criminals, businessmen and other accused.
There is a huge demand from various corners of the society to take resignations voluntarily or in voluntarily from the people who benefited from this law and are still serving in the government.
The point of view of government as presented by federal minister for information and governor of Gilgit-Bultistan Qamar Zaman Kaira is that demanding resignations from NRO beneficiaries uncalled for. The reason he gives is one will have to differentiate between charges and crimes and that nothing has so far been proved against the NRO beneficiaries which on principle seems to be OK! But can the information minister inform us about the pending cases and trials of common people in courts who have to justify their innocence before law to get acquitted and if the NRO angels where innocent then why they took refuge in a dictator’s shelter of NRO.
The question here is of morality and social justice that why an elite group of people found it necessary to get a clearance certificate through a draconian law instead of facing the courts whereas a common man has to face years of trial to get justice.
Still no full list of beneficiaries and cases is provided to the people and media.
We also demand the list of people who got benefits from loan forgiveness or unfair settlements through corrupt political and banking practices.
By Zahid Gishkori
ISLAMABAD – List of beneficiaries of National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) released by Ministry of Law and Justice on Saturday took the top politicians of the state to task and perceived them as black sheep of the society.
Some 34 politicians have been ranked first in the list of some 8,041 persons in terms of money, murders, attempted murders, balwa, embezzlement, corruption, malpractice, terrorism, kidnappings and other crimes of heinous nature. Keeping in view their massive embezzlements, these politicians seem to be heavy burden on the country that is already facing a severe financial crunch.
The Law Ministry for the first time has brought the big fish to surface by releasing the list of country’s most corrupt people. “The notorious guns of malpractice of these black sheep which left the poor at the mercy of God had been used as common practice against the innocents since decades,” NRO list observed.
The top beneficiary of NRO is Altaf Hussain whose 72 cases including 31 murder cases were dismissed. President Asif Ali Zardari had seven cases against him, while the number of Dr Farooq Sattar’s cases was 13. Most politicians had one to two cases against them. Madam Nusrat Bhutto, the spouse of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, also heads over thousands in the notorious list.
The MQM headed over other political parties whose workers hit the iron when it was hot. However, the PML-Q workers kept them away from that shoddy practice.
Addressing a press conference, Minister of State for Law & Justice Mohammad Afzal Sindhu on Saturday released the much-awaited list of the beneficiaries of NRO. The total number of NRO beneficiaries is 8,041 and 34 top politicians, 248 bureaucrats and three ambassadors are included in it, he told.
“Corruption, embezzlement and criminal cases dumped under NRO will likely to be reopened, as the goose of the said ordinance will be cooked on November 28, 2009,” he said. Many stalwarts of the country’s political arena will fight legal battle in the courts as the top court of the country terms NRO null ab initio, he explained.
Sindhu also announced a few important names in the list, which include President Asif Ali Zardari, MQM Chief Altaf Hussain, Begam Nusrat Bhutto, Federal Ministers Ch. Ahmad Mukhtar, Rehman Malik, Dr. Farooq Sattar, and Babar Ghori, Governor Sindh Dr. Ishrat-ul-Ibad Khan, Jahangir Badr, Anwar Saifullah, Yousaf Talpur, Ch. Shaukat Ali, Haji Nawaz Khokhar (late), Agha Siraj Ahmad Durrani, Mir Baz Kithran, Mushtaq Awan, Sulman Farooqi, Hussain Haqqani, Wajid Sham-ul-Hassan, A.R. Siddiqui, Saleem Shahzad, Aftab Ahmed Sherpao, Mian Mohammad Rasheed, Tariq Rasheed, Tariq Mahmood, Sardar Maqsood Leghari, Ghani-ur-Rehman, Javed Ahmed Qureshi, Brig. (Retd) Imtiaz, Brig. (Retd) Aslam Hayat, Safdar Barqi and Saeed Mehdi.
“Sindh is on the bottom line in the said list as some 7,793 people obtained relief under Article 2 of the NRO’s Review Board. The number of beneficiaries of the Review Board is 3,230,” he said.
He said that neither Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani nor his wife had taken benefit under the NRO. “Prime Minister Gilani had opted to face the courts in the cases filed against him and he has been cleared by the courts,” he argued.
The minister said that President Zardari had protection under the Article 248 of the Constitution and couldn’t be tried in any corruption or criminal case as far as he was the President of the state. “We will not protect anyone against the decision of the Supreme Court,” he maintained. The ruling PPP has taken decision that the judgement of superior judiciary would be accepted at all cost, he added.
Parrying a query when asked how much amount was involved in corruption cases abolished against beneficiaries of NRO, Sindhu said, “The demand was the list and it is produced before the media.”
Advocating NRO beneficiaries, he said most of the cases were political vendetta and had been lingering in the courts for 10 to 15 years. “PML-N Quaid Mian Nawaz Sharif has himself admitted that Ehtesab Bureau of Saifur Rehman had initiated political cases against PPP leaders,” he added. The PPP would have to give credibility to the chief of a major political party, he remarked.
The notorious NRO granted amnesty to politicians, political workers and bureaucrats who were accused of corruption, embezzlement, money laundering, murders and terrorism from 1st January 1986 to October 12, 1999, he emphasised.
The State Minister for Law said the myriad corruption cases had been pending since decades, adding only one case was decided and after that three judges had to resign.
Answering a query, he said NRO was brought in the Parliament at the direction of the Supreme Court and the verdicts of the higher judiciary would be respected in future as well.
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