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Explanation of NAB sought on arrest in Fata

Bureau Report 2016-07-14
PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday directed the National Accountability Bureau chairman and its Khyber Pakhtunkhwa director general to file replies on a petition challenging the arrest of an industrialist by the bureau in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas to recover disputed electricity dues.

A bench consisting of Justice Nisar Hussain and Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth issued notices to the NAB chairman and director general asking them to explain their respective positions until July 21 and adjourne d hearing into the petition of Daud Steel Furnace owner, Daud Khan, until then.

The petitioner has challenged his detention on different grounds including the non-extension of jurisdiction of NAB to Fata and violation of a decision of Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet whereby it was decided that the bureau would not exercise power for recovery of dues in tribal areas.

The NAB has arrested the petitioner on June 28 on charges of willfully defaulting on the payment of dues of Tribal Areas Electricity Supply Company to the tune of Rs94 million.

Shumail Ahmad Butt, lawyer for the petitioner, said National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, was promulgated under special circumstancesin pursuance ofthe Proclamation of Emergency of Oct 14, 1999 order, and Provisional Constitution Order No. 1 when the Constitution was held in abeyance.

He said Section 4 of the ordinance provided that the ordinance extended to whole of Pakistan including areas of Fata and Pata.

The lawyer said on restoration of the Constitution and especially in view of Article 270AA of the Constitution, although the NAO 1999 stood protected, itlostits specialstatus and could not be treated to be a supra-constitutional legislation anymore and thus had to undergo the requirements of Article 247 for its application to be extended to tribal areas.

He said his client`s business had been experiencing grave difficulties and hurdles because of militancy in Bara, Khyber Agency, where the said steel furnace unit was situated.

The lawyer said in those dire circumstances, the petitioner had been slappe d with by Tesco with onerous liabilities on account of his electricity connection.

He said his client approached the Tesco authorities on Dec 29, 2015, requesting them to look into the matter and that the superintendent engineer of Tesco Fata Circle formed a committee on Jan 29, 2016, asking to submit report within a week, but no report had been produced so far.

The lawyer said the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet decided on June 17, 2016 that the list of persistent power defaulters except Fata people would be sent to NAB.

He said despite clear legal position, the NAB became the dues recovery agent for Tesco and issued a notice to his client through Khyber Agency political agent asking him to appear before it on June 27.