LAHORE A full bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan announcing a reserved judgment Tuesday directed the Federal Government to fill the vacancies of Chairman and Prosecutor General of National Accountability Bureau strictly within a month otherwise the incumbent in office of Deputy Chairman NAB will cease to exercise his powers delegated by the Chairman and if the NAB institution becomes non-existent in the ensuing scenario, the responsibility for it, will squarely lie on the Federal Government. In the absence of Chairman, the Deputy Chairman NAB cannot exercise the powers transferred to him by the Chairman. It seems preposterous and outrageous if in the garb of a statutory delegation of power by the Chairman in favour of the Deputy Chairman, the latter is permitted to keep powers of the Chairman for a protracted and indefinite period of time, when the office of the Chairman is vacant or it is kept deliberately vacant for months to no end. Such clothing of the Deputy Chairman to let him virtually and practically perform for the Chairman, when the former is not even qualified for this office, runs contrary to the Supreme Court decision in the Bank of Punjab versus Haris Steel Mills case. What cannot be achieved directly under the law must not be allowed to achieve indirectly. It is a settled proposition of law, observed the bench headed by Justice Javed Iqbal and comprising Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Asif Khan Khosa while disposing of the petition of Al-Jihad Trust challenging the appointment of NAB Deputy Chairman Javed Zia Qazi as NABs acting head. The court appreciated the statement of the Attorney General of Pakistan Maulvi Anwarul Haq that the whole structure of the NAB revolves around the Chairman and vacancy of this office would paralyze the whole institution of NAB and that the SC in the BoP case as well as in Shahid Orakzai cases had issued appropriate directions to the government for filling in the vacancies of Chairman and the Prosecutor General NAB. But months have elapsed the needful has not been done jeopardising the normal and smooth functioning of the institution. The court tended to accept request made by the Attorney General to give another opportunity to the government to fill in the said two pivotal vacancies on urgent basis so as to keep the NAB afloat. Keeping in view the drastic implications hinted at by the Attorney General in case the NAB is closed down, the court stayed away from becoming instrument to its closure and winding up of the inquiries, investigations and trials being conducted by the NAB. Hence it preferred to give one more opportunity to the Federal Govt to make appointments on the above-said offices. Considering the grant of a reasonable time to the government to fill in the said two posts, the court wanted NAB to function normally and operate under the Ordinance 1999 after appointment of the Chairman who then would consider the desirability or otherwise of retention of the powers delegated to the incumbent Deputy Chairman. Citing the SC in Al-jihad case of 1999, the court held that judiciary can direct the government for taking proper administrative and legal steps where they are needed under the Constitution and in terms of Article 5 (2), and law is an inviolable obligation. After a thorough consideration on the point whether the Deputy Chairman can continue to exercise the delegated powers (on Oct 15, 2010 in the case of Mr Zia) even after the office of the Chairman is vacant, the court with reference to various sections of the NAB Ordinance drew the illation that the Deputy Chairman does not have independent duties and jobs but he assists and acts on the directions of the Chairman who in that course can also delegate him some of the powers. As such when there is no Chairman in the office, there is no-one whom the Deputy Chairman has to assist and carry out directions to perform his functions. As such the incumbent in the office of Deputy Chairman in fact has no job of his own to perform and presently what he is pressing into operation is the delegated authority from Chairman which happens to be no more in the office. The court observed that in the present case an irrepressible impression has been created that those responsible for filling in the vacancies in the office of delegator (Chairman NAB) are not interested in appointing the Chairman.