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ISLAMABAD: Members of opposition parties of National Assembly Standing Committee on Law and Justice on Wednesday strongly objected to the recently-promulgated national accountability ordinances and termed it an effort to hide the corruption of the present government.

The parliamentary body which met with MNA Riaz Fatyana in the chair discussed in detail the bills, “The National Accountability (second amendment) bill, ordinance 2021” and “The National Accountability (third amendment) bill ordinance 2021”. During the meeting opposition members also criticised the mode of legislation adopted by the government through ordinances.

The opposition members show their concern about the procedure of appointment of the chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the ordinance, appointment of retired District and Session judges, as judges of Accountability Courts, fixation of retirement age for the judges of Accountability Courts up to 68 years, and ending the role of provincial High Courts during appointment of judges of Accountability Courts.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senior and MNA Rana Sanullah said that after exclusion of the decision of federal and provincial cabinets, Council of Common Interests (CCI), National Economic Council (NEC), and others forum from the ambit of the NAB, what will be done if these forums make decisions with malafide intention.

Federal Minister for Law and Justice Farogh Naseem said that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the anti-corruption department will take action if the federal and the provincial cabinets, the CCI, the NEC, and other forums were excluded from the NAB ambit take its decision with malafide intention.

Federal and provincial cabinet takes collective decisions and if these forums took decision with neutrality then it would be considered an honest decision, he said, adding that wrong implementation of collective decisions taken by the federal and provincial cabinets have not been protected in recently promulgated ordinances.

Sanullah asked the minister that how institutions such as the FIA and the anti-corruption body will take action against cabinet decisions whose heads were nominated by the government and have no constitutional backing.

The head of the NAB has constitutional backing, he said.

On this, Federal Minister for Law and Justice Naseem said that the NAB also have no constitutional backing.

Syed Naveed Qamer, MNA and senior leader Pakistan People Party (PPP) said that some of the sections of the ordinance are person-specific like extension of the chairman NAB and appointment of judges of accountability courts.

PPP MNA Nafisa Shah asked that if the cabinet take wrong decision like the recent import of wheat and sugar, which incurred billions of losses to the national exchequer then no action will be taken against the people responsible for it.

Chaudhry Mehmood Bashir Virk, PML MNA said that the recently-promulgated NAB ordinance was based on “ill intentions” to give extension to the chairman NAB.

During the last three years, all opposition have been sent to jail under the NAO 1999 and now the government has issued sugar-coated ordinances, he said.

He said that should reject these ordinances.

Khawaja Saad Rafique, MNA and PML senior leader said that the ordinances are issued in a special circumstance but the present government has set up an ordinance factory in the Presidency.

The ordinances issued by the present government are contradictory to the spirit of constitution, therefore, the government first take back these ordinances.

He also raised objections over appointment of retired District and Session judges, as judges of Accountability Courts, ending role of provincial High Courts during appointment of judges of Accountability Courts and extension of the chairman NAB.

At the end, members of the committee from opposition parties demanded to conduct voting over the bill but the chairman did not allow voting and deferred the bill for further discussion till the next meeting.

The chairman said that members having concerns with regard to proposed amendments shall submit their suggestions/view point in writing before the committee.

The committee expressed its concerns and condemned the incident that happened in Malir Court; wherein, a mob of lawyers was seen torturing a female client.

The committee further recommended to seek comments from the registrar of the concerned High Court about the said occurrence.

MNA Atta Ullah, Lal Chand, Kishwer Zehra, Maleeka Ali Bokhari, Agha Hassan Baloch, Junaid Akbar, Shunila Ruth, Usman Ibraheem, Mohsin Nawaz Ranja, Qadir Khan Mandokhail, Aliya Kamran, and senior officials of the Ministry of Law and Justice also attended the meeting.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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