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

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

Khawaja Haris, representing the PTI chief, argued that corruption affects the fundamental rights of the citizens, right to dignity and right to life. Justice Mansoor told 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 that the law minister had informed that though detailed discussion could not be held on the amendments in the Parliament, but these were analysed in the Parliamentary Committee. He asked the Additional Attorney General Amir Rehman to find out whether the amendments were scrutinized in the Committee, and who its members were.

The chief justice further said that in the Judicial Commission of Pakistan, they have an opportunity to talk to the law minister, as he is 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 are 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 is 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 are 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 will lose out in the next election if they have been doing such things. Justice Ijaz remarked that after the changes of regime there is seesaw changes. There is 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, so that it does change the laws, or pass such and such law.

Haris argued that the democracy is not to win election with majority, but democracy is the rule of law. It is not 100% 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 what would be the effect of our order?” Whether the cases decided subsequent to the amendment would be reversed 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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