ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court has decided to club together the suo motos on illegal appointments in National Accountability Bureau and its officials’ entering into plea bargains for the recovery of looted money.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali will take up this matter on September 28.

The chief justice had taken suo moto of the illegal appointments in NAB on an anonymous letter, while notice about plea bargain was taken on the SC registrar’s note based on the observation of an apex court bench, headed by Justice Amir Hani Muslim.

A bench headed by the chief justice heard the case on illegal appointments in the anti-corruption watchdog on August 24, but adjourned it for two weeks on the request of NAB Prosecutor General.

Eight NAB officers posted as directors at Peshawar, Sukkar, Islamabad, Multan, Karachi and Quetta stations had also filed a petition to become party in the case of illegal appointments.

The petitioners said that six ex-army officers, who are acting charge (OPS) DGs of NAB, were absorbed and given promotion in the bureau in violation of rules. They are: Sqd Ldr (r) Tariq Mehmood Nadeem (Multan station), Major (r) Shahzad Saleem (Peshawar), Major (r) Syed Burhan Ali (Lahore), Major (r) Shabbir Ahmed (Karachi), Major (r) Tariq Mehmood Malik (Quetta) and Lt-Col (r) Siraj-ul-Naeem (Karachi).

These officers were inducted in the NAB as appointment by transfer under clause 13.03, read by clause 3.30 of NAB Employees’ Terms and Conditions of Services (TCS) Rules 2002.

As for the issue of plea bargain, the bench headed by Justice Ameer Hani Muslim, hearing a NAB case in Karachi, had passed an order that the vires of Section 25(a) of NAO, 1999, authorising the NAB chairman to accept the offer by a person of voluntary return of money, illegally earned by him, needed to be examined at the touchstone of the Constitution.

“This provision prima facie is in conflict with the provision of Constitution, where such power can only be exercised by a judicial forum as after payment of voluntary return, the person goes scot-free without any stigma on his career and can contest the elections and or can continue in public office, as the section does not provide any disqualification, as against the disqualification provided under Section 25(b) of the NAB Ordinance,” the court ruled.

The court also stated that there was no yardstick provided in the NAB Ordinance and the rules framed determining the amount of voluntary return. It also noted that, as per prevailing NAB practice, once an accused, who plundered colossal sums of money, deposits a portion of the amount, that too in installments, he stands discharged from all his liabilities in respect of the transaction and goes back to join his job.