ISLAMABAD: National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Admiral (retd) Fasih Bokhari stepped up his war of words against the superior judiciary on Saturday, heaping allegations of bias in an application he submitted in reply to contempt of court charges.
Filed by Advocate Navid Rasul Mirza on behalf of the chairman, the application pleaded with the court to place the contempt case against Admiral (retd) Bokhari before another bench.
Describing the application as a move to scandalise the judiciary, the court office refused to entertain it.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to resume the contempt proceedings on Monday.
On Feb 4 also the court had declined a request made by NAB’s Prosecutor General K.K. Agha to form a larger bench and simultaneously hear all the matters relating to the implementation of orders in the rental power projects (RPP) case.
On Jan 31, the court had issued a contempt notice against the chairman under Article 204 of the Constitution, read with Section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003, for writing a letter to President Asif Ali Zardari and accusing the superior judiciary of influencing the bureau’s ongoing probe into the RPP scam.
On Sept 14 last year also the court had asked the chairman to explain why he should not be arraigned under contempt charges for not implementing its verdict in the case.
In his application, the chairman alleged that Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan had informed him in the middle of last year that the judiciary wished to see Advocate Raja Amir Abbas as a member of NAB’s legal branch. But he could not accommodate this wish because of adverse opinion on record in the bureau against the individual.
“The respondent believes that inability to accede to the wish gave rise to a distinctive predisposition against him.”
Barrister Ahsan, when approached by Dawn, confirmed the allegation but Raja Amir said it was not proper to make observations on a sub judice matter, especially when it involved a contempt case.
The Jan 31 court order, the chairman pleaded, carried an air of conclusiveness and finality of opinion. He said he had been led to believe that the bench stood predisposed towards him and he already stood condemned. “Therefore, it will be in the fitness of things that the matter in question is heard by another bench of the Supreme Court.”
The chairman said his Jan 27 letter to the president was a confidential communication made by him as the administrative head of NAB on his personal letterhead to his appointing authority.
He said he owed a statutory responsibility of submitting an annual report to the president and the letter fell within the category of a protected statement as envisaged by Section 16 of the contempt law.
“The bench has not adverted to this crucial legal position before issuing the abovementioned notice to him and this furthers the respondent’s apprehension that the bench stands already predisposed towards the respondents,” the letter alleged.
Referring to a recent episode between Malik Riaz of the Bahria Town and Dr Arsalan Iftikhar, son of the chief justice, the application said Dr Arsalan was harsh and unrelentingly critical of him. Dr Arsalan had also accused him, in a notice he had sent, of having close relations and family terms with Malik Riaz both in personal and financial terms.
It was also suggested by Dr Arsalan that it would not be appropriate for the NAB chairman to undertake any investigation in that case, the application alleged, adding that in a subsequent case Dr Arsalan repeated his insinuations against him and went on as far as calling him “a person of suspect past”.
He had reasonable and strong apprehensions, the chairman alleged, that the opinion, rancour and hostility carried by Dr Arsalan would go to influence the bench against him.
He pleaded that he was entitled to a fair trial and due process, which included adherence to the law and procedure even prior to start of any proceedings against him.