ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday took notice of lengthy detention of accused in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and sought reasons for the delay in trial by the accountability courts.
A two-member apex court bench, headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, heard the bail plea of former Punjab director food Muhammad Ajmal which stated that keeping the accused in detention would not be fair.
The apex court further said that the accused can only be arrested if they pose the danger of influencing the society or the trial. It added that the accused of a violent and white-collar crime must be differentiated whereas conduct of the NAB accused can be controlled.
The court, while seeking reasons from the Lahore’s accountability court for the delay in the trial, remarked that the statements of all 38 prosecution witnesses should be recorded and the court should be apprised regarding how long NAB cases were usually delayed for.
“Other than arresting the accused, passports, bank accounts and property can be controlled,” Justice Umar Ata Bandial said.
Abid Saqi, counsel for the accused, prayed that the accountability court had 80 references pending. “The accused was indicted in August 2020, but he has been in NAB’s custody for 14 months,” the lawyer added.
Justice Yahya Afridi inquired about the 80 pending cases on which the NAB prosecutor assured the court that the anti-graft body would not delay any reference.
“The NAB should abide by the recent decision of the Supreme Court,” Justice Afridi said. “If NAB has an objection to hearings on a daily basis, then it should file for a review.”
The prosecutor replied that he was happy with the decision, adding that NAB also wanted the cases to end soon.
The SC adjourned the hearing of the case till the third week of November.