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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan contended that due to amendments in the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), 1999, Accountability Courts across Pakistan have returned a large number of references against some prominent politicians of the ruling coalition back to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

PTI Chairman Khan on Monday, through advocate Khawaja Haris, submitted a fresh application, in his pending petition before the Supreme Court to place more documents against the impugned amendments in the NAO, 1999.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah will take up the petition today (Tuesday).

Imran Khan maintained that since 01.09.2022 a large number of references pending in the Accountability Courts throughout Pakistan have been returned to the NAB, as in the light of the amendments the Accountability Courts no longer have jurisdiction to try these cases.

“The References thus returned pertain to offences falling inter alia under Sections 9(a)(i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi), (ix), (x), (xii), of NAO, 1999, and have been so returned by invoking provisions of inter alia sections 1(2), 2, 4(a)-(g), 5(o) and 9(a)(vi) of NAO. 1999,” he added.

He stated that a large number of References (more than 90 per cent of pending References, if not all) are also hit by the impugned amendments, but have not yet been disposed of/ returned by the Accountability Courts. Similarly, there are numerous (if not all) pending enquiries and investigations which have been or are in the process of being similarly wound up in the light of the provisions introduced in the NAO by the impugned amendments.

He said that prominent politicians who have so far benefited from these amendments by way of return of References pending against them include Prime Minister Mian Shehbaz Sharif, ex-Chief Minister Punjab Hamza Shehbaz, former premiers Yosuf Raza Gillani and Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, and Senator Saleem Mandviwalla. While ex-President Asif Ali Zardari has recently (on 07.09.2022) sought a long adjournment from the Accountability Court, No III Islamabad, as he intends to file a fresh application “in pursuance of newly amended NAB Act, 2022”, in addition to an earlier application filed by him under the previously amended law.

He submitted that during the financial years, 2018-19, 2019-2020, 20-2021, NAB had, in terms of incurring expenses for inquiring into, investigating, and prosecuting References pertaining to offences falling under the NAO, 1999, spent total Rs18 billion for filing and prosecuting these cases.

However, pursuant to the impugned amendments, the entire amount (Rs18 billion) of public money has gone down the drain, while, simultaneously, all such references, pending against the former and incumbent holders of public office, and their associates, aiders and abettors, as well as, the private persons, on charges of misappropriation of hundreds of billions of rupees belonging to the people of Pakistan, have been brought to naught.

He maintained that the bulk of the References were or are pending in the Accountability Courts are in respect of offences under sections 9(a)(v), 9(a)(vi) and 9(a)(ix) of NAO, 1999, and these are the offences that have been radically affected by the impugned amendments. This has been achieved predominantly by introducing amendments or substituting sections 2, 4(a) to 4(g), and 4(3), 5(b), (c), (d), (o) and (q), 9(a)(v) and (vi), 9 (a)(vii), 9(a)(ix), 14, 16,19,25(e), provisos to 25 (b), 26 and 31-A of the NAO, 1999.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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