NAB officers’ plea dismissed
ISLAMABAD, Feb 1: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday dismissed a petition filed by 80 officers of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against direct filling of 355 posts in the basic pay scale of 16 to 21 in the organisation.
The dismissal of the case enabled NAB to fill the vacant positions. However, Abdul Rahim Bhatti, the petitioners’ counsel, was of the view that despite getting a favourable decision it was not possible for NAB to fill the vacancies because the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had imposed a ban on new appointments till the forthcoming general elections.
On the other hand, a senior law officer of NAB told Dawn that the ECP ban was not applicable on these recruitments because they were announced in early 2012 and the candidates had already completed different tests.
The bureau was about to give the candidates their appointment letters when the IHC issued a stay order, he added.
According to him, the ECP had imposed the ban on fresh appointments not those announced over a year ago.
The petition was moved in July 2012 to block the process of recruitment of officials on posts from junior investigation officers to directors general.
The petitioners feared that the direct appointments would block their promotion.
Chief Justice IHC Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman observed that some of the petitioners had been promoted to the next grade in January 2012 but they concealed it from the court.
He also observed that the petitioners were demanding filling of the posts of directors and directors general through promotion but they could not justify the demand.
The NAB officers had challenged the process to recruit 139 junior investigation officers, 141 assistant directors, 49 deputy directors, 18 additional directors, six directors and two directors general.
They alleged that the appointments were being made in violation of NAB service rules 2002.
In October 2012, the IHC had restrained NAB from filling the posts till further orders.
Abdul Rahim Bhatti, the petitioners’ counsel, adopted before the court that in mid-2012 the bureau advertised the 355 vacancies without consulting the law ministry and the establishment division which was mandatory under the NAB rules.
He said the authorities had advertised even those vacancies which could only be filled through promotion. He said in other similar organisations like the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and police direct appointment was allowed in BPS-16 and BPS-17 only while the posts in BPS-18 and above were reserved for promotions.
The counsel alleged that the chairman NAB during 2011 and 2012 had illegally hired 153 officers on contractual basis under the guise of experts.The petitioners also attached a list of 153 employees who had been appointed by the incumbent chairman NAB in alleged violation of the NAB rules.
According to the list, these 153 employees are getting Rs7.5 million as monthly salaries in addition to the other benefits.
Out of 153 contract employees, 30 are getting over Rs100,000 salary per month. Among these contractual employees, 32 are retired army persons – 20 officers and 12 other ranks (ORs).
On the other hand, NAB additional prosecutor general Fawzi Zafar told the court that the petitioners had mentioned the names of contractual employees but did not implead them as a party in the petition.
He said the NAB officers deliberately did not mention the fact that most of them had been promoted in January 2012.
According to him, the NAB chairman while exercising his discretionary powers had appointed the experts for his assistance. He alleged that the petition was filed to harass the chairman and the NAB administration.