IHC judgment on Incidental Charges by the NAB.

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The Islamabad High Court has recently held in case WP NO.2908 OF 2014 TANVIR HUSSAIN MANJI VS. NATIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY BUREAU and another that NAB has no legal mandate to charge incidental charges along with Plea Bargain. The Court has referred to section 25 (B) of the The National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 which stipulates that NAB can accept an offer to return the assets or wealth made by accused personย  through illegal means or in course of offence. This is called plea bargain which the NAB is mandated to do. There is aย  phrase, terms and condition,ย  used in the said section which says that the NAB Chairman can accept such an offer made by the accused subject to such terms and conditions as the Chairman deems fit. The NAB in a routine manner change 15% incidental charges in lieu of expenses incurred on the plea bargainย  in the guise of “terms and conditions”. This practice of NAB has already been deplored by the Lahore High Court in many cases but the NAB is still adamant to change it. The Court has referred to many judgments and has consulted the dictionary too to construe the meaning of the term ‘incidental charges’ as used in section 25-b of the Ordinance. The Court has analyzed that incidental means something which is subordinate to a greater thingย  or which has a minor role to play. Similarly, charges means expenses incurred in connection with a business, transaction or a suit.ย  If both the meanings are read conjunctively, it means coincidental, peripheral or subsidiaryย  expenses incurred in connection withย  a deal of plea bargain.ย  The NAB in the case in hand did not refer to any such expenses incurred in connection with the plea bargain. Thus, the incurring of the incidental charges by the NAB being devoid of legal back up was declaredย  illegal and of no legal effect.

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