ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court hearing challenges to the appointment of Justice (retd) Syed Deedar Hussain Shah as Chairman of the National Accountability Bureau sought on Tuesday federal government`s assistance in ascertaining whether the appointment had been made by the president on his own or on the advice of the prime minister.
A four-Judge bench comprising Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, Justice Raja Fayyaz Ahmed and Justice Asif Saeed Khosa is hearing petitions moved by Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and citizen Shahid Orakzai.
The court asked Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, the counsel for the federal government, to assist it in understanding the contents of the Oct 8, 2010, summary on the appointment of NAB chairman, especially in the context that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had on Oct 10 reportedly stated that he had nothing to do with the appointment because it fell under the president`s discretion.
The counsel submitted the 10-page summary to establish that it had been prepared by the law ministry to be forwarded by the Prime Minister`s Secretariat for consideration of Justice Deedar Shah`s appointment as the NAB chairman. The summary suggested that the prime minister had talked to Chaudhry Nisar on the matter and even discussed objections raised by the latter.
Citing Section 6 of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) which deals with the appointment of NAB chairman, Mr Pirzada said it was a sub-constitutional provision which did not give discretionary powers to the president. Rather, such appointments are made on the advice of the prime minister.
Justice Javed Iqbal observed that the debate on the appointment of NAB chairman would end if there was a summary reflecting consent of the prime minister.
Justice Tassaduq Jillani said that the summary gave an impression that the prime minister had not given his advice, rather it was sent to him for consideration.
Advocate Muhammad Akram Sheikh, the counsel for Chaudhry Nisar, said that a few days before the expiry of 30 days` period stipulated by the apex court for making the requisite appointment, the prime minister had on Sept 22 last year informed the opposition leader on telephone that Justice (retd) Mukhtar Ahmad Junejo was being considered for the post of NAB chairman.
The counsel said that Chaudhry Nisar had serious reservations over the proposal and he communicated them to the prime minister in writing, but the following day (Sept 23) the name of Justice Deedar Shah was communicated to him by the prime minister without any reference to his earlier letter.
Advocate Akram contended that the appointment was in violation of Section 6(b)(i) of the National Accountability Bureau Ordinance, 1999, because Justice Deedar had long been associated with the PPP, actively participated in party politics and was twice elected member of the Sindh Assembly.
The case will be taken up again on Wednesday.