Nab Law

National Accountability Bureau

The primary objective of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is to investigate and prosecute individuals engaged in corruption or corrupt practices through the misuse and abuse of power. If a citizen holding a public office in Pakistan is accused of misusing their powers and acquiring assets beyond their apparent means, a complaint can be filed with NAB, triggering an investigation and potential prosecution.

Upon receiving such information, NAB initiates an investigation, and if it determines that the accused is not guilty, the case is closed, and the individual is acquitted. However, if NAB finds evidence of guilt or involvement in corrupt practices, it takes legal action and presents charges in court. If convicted, the accused may face a sentence of rigorous imprisonment for up to 14 years, along with fines, and their assets are frozen.

All properties, whether within Pakistan or abroad, owned, controlled, or belonging to the accused, directly or indirectly, are subject to confiscation. Overseas properties can be sealed at the request of the NAB Chairman or other federal authorities. Pakistani authorities may also seek assistance from foreign states to gather evidence related to the accused’s assets and freeze properties or accounts during the trial in the National Accountability Court in Pakistan.

Throughout the trial, any attempt to transfer the properties to beneficiaries or benamidars is considered a crime and deemed null and void. The term “assets of the accused” encompasses any movable or immovable property owned, controlled, or belonging to the accused, directly or indirectly, including those held benami under the names of beneficiaries.

Investigation

Investigation encompasses all proceedings under the legal Code aimed at gathering evidence, conducted by a police officer or an individual authorized by a Magistrate for this purpose. The term “judicial proceeding” refers to the process of collecting information or evidence about a crime, serving to determine if a crime has occurred, identify the perpetrator, apprehend the perpetrator, and provide evidence for a conviction in court. Successful attainment of these objectives leads to the resolution of the crime. Other outcomes may include the recovery of stolen property, deterring criminal behavior, and providing satisfaction to crime victims.

Under the National Accountability Ordinance 1999, an inquiry or investigation must be completed promptly. The Chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) or any authorized officer is responsible for collecting materials and evidence. If the Chairman believes that there is sufficient material against the accused to justify filing a reference, further proceedings are initiated, and the matter is referred to court.

Inquiry

An inquiry, as defined in Section 2(g) of the Criminal Procedure Code 1898, encompasses every examination conducted by a Magistrate or Court under the Code, excluding a trial. The primary objective of an inquiry is to ascertain the truth of a reported crime or the falsity of any facts.

In the context of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Ordinance, the Chairman or an authorized officer, upon receiving a complaint, may choose to initiate an inquiry. Under Section 19 of the NAB Ordinance, the Chairman or an authorized officer has the authority to call for information from any person to determine if there has been a contravention of the ordinance or any rule. This may include requesting the production of relevant documents, examining individuals, banks, and financial institutions familiar with the facts of the case. The Chairman of NAB can also seek aid and assistance from government agencies in this process. The information collected during the inquiry may serve as evidence in the subsequent trial under the ordinance.

Bail before arrest

This provision enables an individual to request bail in anticipation of being arrested for an alleged non-bailable offense. Anticipatory bail is a directive to release a person on bail even before an actual arrest occurs. In the context of the ordinance, a reference against the accused is authorized and filed in an accountability court, which, after initial proceedings, can frame charges of corruption against the accused. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) may choose to arrest the accused named in the reference or after the charges are framed. The accused has the right to obtain bail before arrest from a competent court of law.

Bail after arrest

If an individual is apprehended by a law enforcement agency for the commission of an offense, they have the option to apply for bail post-arrest. Section 16 of the NAB Ordinance, 1999 outlines the criteria for a day-to-day trial and mandates its conclusion within 30 days. Should the trial not be finalized within 30 days from the submission of the challan, the accused would automatically be eligible for the grant of bail.

Evidence

Evidence refers to information presented in testimony or documents that is utilized to convince the fact finder, whether a judge or jury, to make a decision favoring one side over the other. In accordance with this Ordinance, the Chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) or any authorized officer has the authority, during the course of an inquiry or investigation, to call for information from individuals to determine if there has been a contravention of the provisions of the ordinance or any rule. This may include requesting the production of relevant documents, examining individuals, banks, and financial institutions familiar with the facts of the case. The Chairman of NAB can also seek aid and assistance from government agencies, and the information collected in this process may serve as evidence in the trial under the ordinance.

Reference

In accordance with Section 18 of the NAB Ordinance 1999, the Court is prohibited from taking cognizance under this Ordinance unless it is based on a Reference authorized and filed by the Chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). The initiation of a reference under this Ordinance may occur through various means, including receiving a reference from an appropriate government, the receipt of a complaint, or of its own accord.

Under the National Accountability Ordinance, investigating officers present their findings to the Chairman of NAB. Upon approval by the NAB Chairman, the reference is authorized and filed in an accountability court. Following initial proceedings, the court can frame charges of corruption against the accused. NAB may choose to arrest the accused named in the reference or after the charges are framed. The accused has the right to obtain bail before arrest from a competent court of law.

Appeal

Pursuant to Section 32 of the NAB Ordinance 1999, an individual convicted by the NAB Court is entitled to file an appeal within 10 days of the final judgment. This appeal is to be presented before the high court of the relevant jurisdiction. The appeals are to be heard by a bench comprising not less than two judges, as constituted by the Chief Justice of the High Court.

GNS Law Associate possesses expertise in handling NAB cases, and our team of skilled lawyers has significant experience in this area. Feel free to reach out to us at any time to discuss your case with the best NAB Lawyer in Karachi, Pakistan.

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