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Pakistan

Amendments in accountability law: SC to take up plea of Imran on Tuesday

  • A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, will hear the constitutional petition of the PTI chairman
Published July 17, 2022
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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court will take up Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s petition against the amendments in the National Accountability Ordinance on Tuesday.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, will hear the constitutional petition of the PTI chairman, wherein, he has prayed that the amendments made through the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Act, 2022, be declared ultra vires to the Constitution.

The PTI chief on June 25 filed the petition under Article 184(3) of the Constitution through Khawaja Haris, challenging the amendments brought in the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 through the National Accountability (Amendment) Act (XI of) 2022, and cited the federation and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as respondents.

The petition stated; “By virtue of the impugned amendments, not only all the cases of the category mentioned in Section 4(2) (b) of the NAO, 1999, pending trial against, inter alia the Ministers, Chief Ministers, Prime Ministers, and a President stand virtually terminated.

Imran Khan challenges NAB law amendment in Supreme Court

Even those Ministers, Chief Ministers or Prime Ministers, as much as all other holders of public office, and Prime Ministers who may already stand convicted prior to the promulgation of the impugned amendments, have also been provided an opportunity to have their respective convictions undone by taking advantage of the amendments made effective retrospectively, i.e., from the date of commencement of the NAO, 1999, and that too without any clause saving past and closed transactions.”

It further said; “By restricting prosecution qua decisions taken by the Prime Ministers, Ministers, Cabinet Members, Members and officials of Committees, and Sub-Committees, CCI, NEC, ECNEC, CDWP, PDWP, the State Bank of Pakistan, and “such other bodies”, the impugned amendment is not only unreasonable, but it also defeats the very purpose for which it is represented to have been enacted.”

The blanket immunity from prosecution given to officials of all regulatory bodies, such as NEPRA, SECP, the Competition Commission of Pakistan, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority, regarding all matters decided by them, is also unreasonable, unconstitutional and against the very concept of accountability.

The re-definition of the word “Benamidar” has been introduced in clause (e) of Section 5 of NAO, 1999, so as to pave the way for providing the benefit of acquittal to all those accused who are facing trial, or have faced trial, for offenses involving allegations of holding benami assets beyond their known sources of income, notwithstanding that these accused were/ are not in a position to “reasonably account for” the sources from which these assets were purchased, nor prove “payment of full and lawful consideration” thereof.

It said placing the onus upon the Prosecution (NAB) to prove that the assets owned and/ or possessed by holders of public office as being obtained by corruption and corrupt practices, is manifestly aimed at and will result in acquittal or discharge of all those holders of public office who are presently facing trial for offences under Section 9(a) (v) of NAO, 1999, and even of those holders of a public office whose cases are pending in appeal, or already stand decided.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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