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‘Merely Increasing Numbers Of Accountability Courts Will Not Ensure Accountability’

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The Supreme Court on Wednesda ordered the government to appoint judges at accountability courts and proposed to establish 120 more such courts. However, the question remains as to whether a comprehensive accountability concerning all responsible of corruption will take place this time.

The development came on Wednesday during the top court’s hearing of a suo motu case related to the delay in the dispensation of corruption cases. The SC noted that about 1,226 cases were pending with the courts, while some of them are awaiting proceedings for the past 15 to 20 years. It also observed that five accountability courts did not even have judges to dispense cases.

“I don’t think the issue is whether the increase should take place or not. There is no harm in an increase in NAB courts or judges,” senior lawyer Basil Nabi Malik said while speaking to Naya Daur on Thursday.

“The problem of selective accountability arises from government influence at the NAB level, amongst other things, and the number of references being filed simply to harass political opponents.”

He further said that if NAB were to act independently, the issue of selective accountability would no longer exist, and an additional number of judges would in fact be wholly encouraged.

“Merely increasing the number judges won’t help in and of itself,” Basil said when asked whether the move will actually help fight corruption. “An increase in judges without taking care to appoint competent judges will only exacerbate the situation. A quick but wrong decision is perhaps more harmful than a slow but fair one.”

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According to the senior lawyer, issues such as judge capacity, prosecution independence, and NAB impartiality, would all need to be overhauled for a positive impact.

The courts were first established under the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 to decide, within 30 days, the corruption references filed by National Accountability Bureau.

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