Rabbani proposes formation of Federal Commission for Accountability

Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani on Friday proposed to form a Federal Commission for Accountability with one authority and one law, with which all other parallel forums for accountability will cease to exit.

However, he said that the forums for disciplinary actions and other related matters for persons belonging to judiciary, armed forces and bureaucracy will remain functional, but accountability will be the exclusive domain of the Commission.

He also proposed that chairman NAB should be appointed by the Commission, while heads of provincial NABs should be appointed by chairman NAB and shall be ratified by the Commission. In an open letter to the people of the country, Rabbani said that the current system of accountability has failed to curb the menace of corruption and threatens democratic polity and harmonisation of the society.

“This system of accountability has fallen apart, wherein any attempt to amend the existing system, in patchworks, will not work. As a stopgap arrangement, I have referred the matter of plea bargain to Senate Committee on Law and Justice but there is a dire need to holistically review the existing accountability mechanism,” he added.

Besides establishing numerous anti-corruption agencies, he said, scores of laws were passed to curb the menace of corruption, adding despite all these laws and mechanisms, the inequalities and structural imbalances rule the roost.

“We work under a system which has five types of applicability of law – one set of rules and laws is for the ruling elite; the other set of rules is for the ruling civilian elite; the third category of rules is for the collaborators of the ruling elite, fourth for the rich and the powerful and the fifth one is for the ordinary citizens of Pakistan,” he lamented.

He also regretted that accountability agencies are working under the dominance of the government and they are used for political victimisation, adding there is no mechanism for accountability of said agencies that results in unbridled powers.

About National Accountability Bureau (NAB), he said that the top anti-graft body is only arresting petty suspects and putting them in prisons, completely ignoring its prime duty of taking up mega corruption cases.

About the functions of the proposed Federal Commission for Accountability, he said that it should investigate and scrutinise the evidence by NAB as well as preliminary decision about filing of a reference or closure of investigation to be taken by the Bureau.

“The cases approved for a reference as well as closure of investigation shall be placed before the Commission for final decision in the matter. The NAB shall take preliminary decision as to the reference within 30 days of receipt of case, failing which the case shall be deemed to have been transferred to the Commission,” he added.

The Commission shall, within 30 days, decide the matters placed before it failing which recommendation of NAB shall be deemed to have taken effect.

The court shall decide the reference within a period of four months; however, a onetime extension of not more than one month can be taken from the Supreme Court. “Asset declarations and other related matters of NAB officials to be submitted before the Commission for scrutinising the same and shall also be made public. Annual report of the Commission to be laid before both the Houses of Parliament,” he added.

About the composition of the Commission, he said: “One member judicial, a sitting judge of Supreme Court, to be nominated by the Chief Justice of Pakistan.

One member armed forces, not below the rank of lieutenant general, to be nominated by the Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee; member civil services, a senior most serving grade-22 officer; one member police and civil armed forces, to be nominated by the ministry of interior; four members, one each from bar associations, human rights activists, journalists and professionals, to be nominated by the Chairman Senate, Speaker National Assembly and Chief Justice of Pakistan.

The nominations will be ratified by the Senate, National Assembly and Judicial Commission.”

“Four members of the Parliament, equally from both Houses and half from treasury and half from opposition benches, to be nominated by the chairman Senate and speaker National Assembly respectively,” he added.

He said that chairman of the commission should be elected by the members with a three years term whose nomination should be ratified by both Houses of Parliament within 45 days failing which deemed to have been appointed.

“There should be a bar on the members of parliament and members of armed forces on becoming the Chairman of the Commission,” he added.

JURISDICTION One law, one authority – the commission shall have jurisdiction with respect to, (i) Public Office holders, (ii) Persons in the Service of Pakistan (in relation to the federation or the province, as the case may be), (iii) Judiciary (matters of corruption and corrupt practices to be taken up by Commission and other matters to be taken up by the Supreme Judicial Council), (iv) Armed forces (matters of corruption and corrupt practices to be taken up by the Commission and all other matters to be dealt with under the relevant laws),(v) Any other person (body, corporate, entities, firms, etc).

-Business Recorder