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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the authorities to set up 120 accountability courts across the country for early disposal of corruption cases.

A three-member special bench, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, heard a suo motu notice about delays in decision-making process in cases before the accountability courts.

"We note that the number of pending cases in the Accountability Court demand more than hundred number of judges/courts for dealing with and deciding these cases," he said and added that cases were filed regularly and their numbers were increasing, while the number of courts was totally stagnant.

The strength of the accountability courts all over Pakistan shall immediately be increased by the government in order to ensure that all the NAB cases come to their logical conclusion at a fast pace and at least within three months.

The Secretary Law has been directed to immediately seek instructions from the government on proposal of creating at least 120 accountability courts all over the country, and to fill up such courts with judges.

The bench said that if such measures were not adopted by the government and the NAB, then the whole purpose of the law would stand vitiated, which apparently was not the purpose of the legislature.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman was asked to submit a report as to how the NAB proposed to deal with all those pending cases, and so they were decided at the earliest.

The Attorney General for Pakistan, the Prosecutor General NAB, and the Secretary Law, were ordered to appear before the court on the next date of hearing.

The law secretary was also ordered to appoint judges in five accountability courts i.e. one each in Peshawar, Quetta, Islamabad, and two in Karachi.

The chief justice said no reason had been given that why the posts were vacant till now.

"We are unable to understand the rational or logic behind the courts vacant for long periods by the relevant authorities," he said and added if the judges were not appointed within one week, then the Court would take action against the concerned officials.

The chief justice said corruption cases should be decided by the NAB courts within 30 days.

He said, "The whole purpose of making accountability law apparently seems to be rendered futile, if the courts are allowed to remain vacant."

The bench noted that 1,226 NAB references had been pending in various courts since 2000.

The court noted that apparently there seemed to be a justification as to why those cases were being allowed to remain pending.

The chief justice said they expect that the secretary law after seeking instructions from the government shall immediately fill in all the vacancies of the Accountability Courts within one week without fail otherwise the Court shall take coercive action against the officials who are found defaulting in performing their duties.

On January 8, Justice Mushir Alam had requested the chief justice to constitute a special bench, and initiate suo motu proceedings over the delay in prosecuting the accused before the accountability courts.

The top court, therefore, had also asked the NAB to furnish a report highlighting reasons for the delay in trials, how many accountability courts were short of presiding judges and the reasons why the vacancies have not yet been filled. The case was adjourned for a week.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020