- Umar Ata Bandial says country suffered because decisions could not be taken in time
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial noted that Pakistan’s economy has been hurt due to the fear of National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) as civil servants were unable to take decisions in time, or the decisions were delayed.
“When the prices of commodities were going up and down in the international market, the decisions could not be taken in time; therefore, the country suffered. We need to look into the public perspective as well,” the CJP added.
Justice Bandial, heading a three-judge bench comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, on Friday, heard the constitutional petition of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman, Imran Khan, against the amendments in the NAO 1999.
The bench noted that although it is accepted without any question (by the counsels) that the accountability of the persons holding public offices is fundamental to good governance, which is the objective of the constitution. The line needs to be drawn who acted bona fide or due to other extraneous or illegal considerations to arrive at the decision regarding the public funds.
Makhdoom Ali Khan, who was engaged to represent the Federation, said there is a danger to entertaining this petition, adding that by doing this the Supreme Court will convert itself to the third chamber of the Parliament.
He said; “Should we just believe that before 1999 the country was mired in corruption and there was no progress.” Due to this law, the businessmen were reluctant to invest and the economy is in shambles.
The chief justice said this (law) is an instrument for persecution in many ways.
Justice Mansoor said the petitioner is the parliamentarian. He said the voters elect their leaders to represent them in the parliament and they have also elected the leaders of the PTI. He questioned whether the petitioner had asked his constituents before withdrawing from the parliament.
What is the conduct of your client, he asked the counsel. He remarked can the opposition propose a bill in the parliament regarding the points raised by the counsel. He said the Court can interpret the law and they are not there to design the law.
The petitioner’s advocate Khawaja Haris said the PTI lawmakers have resigned from the National Assembly, but the Speaker is not accepting their resignation. He said that a petition of similar nature is also pending before the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
Makhdoom Ali Khan contended that the president (Dr Arif Alvi), instead of approving the NAB law, had sent a letter to PM Shehbaz Sharif, which included suggestions regarding the amendments. “We have made the letter part of the case too,” he stated. He said the president’s 33-page statement on the amendments is made part of the petition. He said the president represents the federation, why he has become a party. He questioned where the president was when amendments in the NAO 1999 were introduced through Ordinances. Why not he objected then?
Makhdoom said the petitioner should be asked why he was opposing the amendment now when he himself was in the favour of them earlier. “If this is a political strategy, he should use another forum instead of the court,” he contended.
The chief justice remarked you mean to say they (the petitioner) are challenging their own law.
Justice Ijaz said they are not inclined to comment on who made the law, as their only concern is that it should not violate the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution. J
ustice Mansoor inquired whether any report had been prepared on how the NAB has failed over the years to end corruption and what it has done with the economy.
Makhdoom Ali Khan said an incorrect or bad decision is not corruption. He said the NAB law has paralysed the economy. Justice Ijaz questioned whether a self-serving amendment could be passed to create amnesty for a certain number of people. He questioned if an act of corruption is proved should it be then demolished by creating an amnesty and making a large number of people beneficiaries.
The bench, directing the counsels of the petitioner and the federation to focus their arguments on how amendments affect the salient features of the Constitution, adjourned the case until August 19.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022