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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court said setting high standards to tackle corruption in view of the UN and international conventions is the business of the Parliament, which represents the majority of the country.

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

Justice Mansoor questioned: should the courts set the standard to tackle corruption. “Are we (the Court) in a business to set the standard?”

He stated that any law under Article 8 of the constitution be void if it is inconsistent with the fundamental rights, while it does not talk about absence of the law. “Setting of standard is the business of the Parliament,” he added.

Khawaja Haris said there are many judgments of the apex court, wherein, directions were issued to the parliament to make laws in order to secure fundamental rights. He said in Covid, the Parliament was asked to pass laws, and in Women’s Rights case, the SC wanted that lets have its (SC)’s approval before the passing of the law by the Parliament.

Justice Mansoor said it is not the case that there is no law in the country on corruption. He said in the instant matter, the petitioner is saying that the law (amendment) is not satisfactory and is not up to international standards.

He said why not all the international conventions be placed before the parliament, which makes laws, adding “the parliament that represents the majority of the country is empowered to make laws and not the three of us (bench members).” “We (the Court) have to tread carefully.”

He remarked that what this court has to see is that the laws are not violative of the fundamental rights. He maintained that the amendments in the NAO have not set aside the conventions, and the petitioner is talking about those cases, which are under trial.

Haris argued that once people become unaccountable related to their corruption cases then this becomes a matter of fundamental rights. He said in Rental Power Project cases, the apex court declared that the public money belongs to the people of Pakistan, adding it is public property in terms of Article 24 of the Constitution.

The policy matter has been the concern of the Supreme Court, and it does not interfere in the policy matter unless these are against the law and the fundamental rights (FR). Justice Mansoor said that before the Court there is no issue of policy matter. He said the executive makes policy, while the parliament makes law on it. “The executive policy could be interfered with if it is against the fundamental rights,” he remarked.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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