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ISLAMABAD: The counsel of former prime minister Imran Khan has contended that amendment in the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 is not promoting public good.

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and also comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, on Wednesday heard the constitutional petition of PTI Chairman Imran Khan against amendments in the NAO 1999.

Khawaja Haris, representing the PTI chief, argued that corruption affects the fundamental rights of the citizens, and the right to dignity and right to life. Justice Mansoor said that the petitioner could have raised these issues in the parliament.

However, the counsel said that no debate took place on the amendment in the NAO, and in one day it was passed by the Senate. The chief justice said the law minister had informed that though detailed discussion could not be held on the amendments in the parliament, these were analysed by the parliamentary committee. He asked Additional Attorney General Amir Rehman to find out whether or not the amendments were indeed scrutinised by the committee and who were its members.

The chief justice further said that in the Judicial Commission of Pakistan, they had an opportunity to talk to the law minister, as he was also its member. He said the law minister had shared with him that many members gave votes in favour of amendments as they saw their colleagues were also voting.

Justice Mansoor Ali Shah said that “one way to undo the amendments is that when your party (PTI) comes into power you change them.” Haris said it was very difficult to take action against those who were acquitted by the Accountability Courts subsequent to the amendments in NAO. The documents start disappearing. He said in Asif Ali Zardari’s three cases the original papers were missing therefore the cases were decided in his favour.

The PTI counsel further contended that had the Section 31-A of NAO not changed Ishaq Dar could not have come back. The witnesses in the NAB cases against the people, who are in government, have been killed.

Justice Mansoor said they would lose out in the next election if they had been doing such things. Justice Ijaz remarked that after the changes of regime there were seesaw changes. There was flurry of acquittal, adding those who were acquitted got clean chit, he added.

Justice Mansoor remarked that in the democratic process one government come bring some laws. He questioned whether the Supreme Court keep the Parliament stunting don’t change the laws or pass such and such law.

Kh Haris argued that the democracy was not to win election with majority, but democracy was the rule of law. It is not 100 percent right of the parliament to make the law that take away the rights of the people. They (incumbent govt functionaries) are trying to camouflage things to get out of their cases.

Justice Ijaz said, “Suppose we agree with the petitioner and strike down the amendments then would be the effect of our order?” Whether the cases decided subsequent to the amendment would be reverse or whether they will be reopened? Justice Mansoor inquired whether striking down the amendments will revive the previous cases or not?

Kh Haris argued that the amendments have encroached upon the fundamental rights of the people. The national wealth belong to the people of Pakistan, adding 85 cases against them [PPP, PML-N and others] have been returned to the NAB.

The case was adjourned until today (Thursday).

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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