SC orders action against beneficiaries of NAB ‘voluntary return’

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan issued its detailed five page verdict in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) ‘voluntary uo moto case.

The Supreme Court has directed Secretary Establishment and Chief Secretaries of Provinces to initiate proceedings against accused persons who benefitted from the voluntary return section in NAB.

The SC also stated that the NAB chairman or any other officer authorised by him in this behalf is restrained from accepting any offer of voluntary return.

The SC added that  the NAB chariman used the voluntary return section for his benefit and this in return promoted corruption.

According to a NAB list, there are 1,584 officials who benefitted from ‘voluntary return’. This includes 165 federal and 1,419 provincial officials.  The most benefit was provided to officials from Khyber Pakhtukhwa where 900 returned embezzled funds under ‘voluntary return’.

The ‘voluntary return and plea bargain’ section in NAB allows the bureau to discharge an individual from ‘all his liability’ in the matter. Simply put, it lets an individual pay back the amount he has embezzled to the public kitty and the case closes then and there.

On Monday, the Supreme Court took away powers of voluntary return from the NAB chairman during hearing of the suo moto case.

Justice Ameer Hani said that these powers promoted a culture of corruption in NAB.

Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali maintained that NAB was exercising powers that even the court was not entitled to. “A person can visit the NAB office, settle the matter over a cup of coffee, and save his job,” the CJ said.

Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh said that NAB was like a person standing in a busy marketplace screaming “Do corruption and then return it voluntarily”.