ISLAMABAD: Justice (retd) Deedar Hussain has been appointed Chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
“President Asif Ali Zardari signed a summary of Justice Deedar Hussain’s appointment and an official notification has been issued in this regard,” presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said on Friday.
Criticising the decision, the Pakistan Muslim League-N announced that it would challenge the appointment in the Supreme Court.
The post had been vacant for about three months and only two days were left before a second deadline set by the Supreme Court to fill it.
The Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, accused Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani of not fulfilling the constitutional requirement of holding ‘meaningful consultation’ with him on the appointment.
The presidential spokesman said the prime minister had consulted Chaudhry Nisar about the appointment and fulfilled the constitutional requirement.
“Consultation doesn’t mean consent of the opposition leader,” he said, while elaborating the relevant clause of the NAB Ordinance.
The main objection raised by PML-N leaders was that Justice Deedar had been elected MPA twice on the PPP ticket.
They said the former judge had defended President Zardari in corruption cases as his lawyer.
Mr Babar said former chief justice Syed Sajjad Ali Shah had declared in the Al Jehad Trust case that party affiliation could not be made a ground for a judge’s disqualification.
He said Justice Deedar was the chief justice of the Sindh High Court when former President Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s government had filed a hijacking case against PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and sought death sentence.
The court awarded life imprisonment and the government filed a review petition seeking death penalty.
“Meanwhile, Justice Deedar Hussain was elevated as a judge of the Supreme Court and Mr Sharif said on the record that he had been removed from his post because the government feared that he would decide the case on the basis of merit and justice.”
PML-N spokesman Siddiqul Farooq said: “We have decided to challenge the appointment in the Supreme Court next week because we believe that he is not apolitical and we cannot accept him as the head of the top accountability authority of the country.
“Consultation means seeking the consent of the opposition, not to inform the opposition leader about the nominee.”
Justice (retd) Deedar is the first NAB chairman belonging to the judiciary. The opposition also says the government had to seek the consent of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.
The Supreme Court had given the government 30 days to appoint the chairman and then granted another 10 days when the government failed to do so.
According to sources, the government had also broached the names of Justice (retd) Mukhtar Junejo, Chief Justice (retd) Abdul Hameed Dogar, Justice (retd) Faqeer Khokhar and former federal secretary Mehmood Saleem Mehmood, but all of them were rejected by the opposition.
Ahmad Hassan adds: Talking to reporters at the Parliament House, Chaudhry Nisar said he had been given two names for the post by the prime minister and he had written two letters explaining his point of view regarding the requirement of the opposition leader’s consultation.
“I advised the prime minister to arrange a meeting where we could discuss and reach a consensus on an undisputed, non-partisan and impartial person.”
The opposition leader said he might release his letters to the press.
He said the names of Mukhtar Junejo and Deedar Hussain had been sent to him and both were known supporters of the PPP.
Law Minister Babar Awan defended the appointment and said it had been made by the president on his discretion with the consent of the prime minister.
When a consensus could not be achieved the opinion of two top leaders of the country prevailed, he said.
The minister and the opposition leader also defended their parties’ stances on a bill regarding reinstatement of sacked employees.
Chaudhry Nisar said the PML-N was not against reinstatement of sacked employees but those removed during the Musharraf rule should also be reappointed.
He said many of the sacked employees had got other employments, some were ineligible for their posts and some others’ claims had been rejected by courts
He also said that the reinstatement bill would cost Rs21 billion to the national exchequer. The PML-N leader said the government had earlier promised to defer the bill till a consensus was achieved.
He said his party had not demanded mid-term elections but it would monitor the government’s performance.
Referring to a claim by the prime minister that the government had implemented 80 per cent of the Charter of Democracy, he said that, in fact, only 20 per cent of the CoD had been implemented.
“Some federal ministers are not under the control of the prime minister and they are on a warpath with the opposition,” he said.
The law minister said the PPP government was determined to continue providing employment to people without any fear of the PML-N whose anti-worker attitude had been exposed.
“None of the reinstated employees is related to the president or the prime minister and we have done nothing wrong by reinstating those who were sacked by the PML-N.”
He alleged that the Punjab government had recently sacked a son of a senior leader of Punjab bar because his father had arranged a meeting addressed by him in Lahore.
Mr Awan said the PML-N had abandoned a resolution in the National Assembly calling for Gen (retd) Musharraf’s trial under Article 6.
He said the PML-N leadership had also opposed a raise given to government employees, although it later implemented the increase in Punjab.