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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court was told that eight references of parliamentarians were returned and two lawmakers were acquitted after the amendments in the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), 1999.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, on Tuesday, heard former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s petition against the amendments in the NAO, 1999.

Makhdoom Ali Khan argued that according to the NAB CMA, which contains the summary of returned references and acquittals asa consequence of the amendments, the total number of references returned/ transferred since 2019 to date is 221. Out of that 29 cases are of politicians, and of 29 references eight are of parliamentarians and 1,201 of other accused. He further said acquittals from 2019 to to-date are 41.

Out of that five cases are of politicians, and of five cases two are of parliamentarians and 183 of other accused.

He submitted that the appeals against acquittals are pending before the High Courts, adding this number must be higher as NAB has not provided complete details of other accused for Karachi and Peshawar regions.

References returned or acquittals ordered by NAB Rawalpindi from 2019 to June 2022: Haji Saifullah Bangash (Senator-PPP) 01 (Died on 01.02.2018), Raja Pervaiz Ashraf (MNA-PPP) 11 (Rental Power), Shaukat Fayyaz Tareen (Senator PTI) 04, Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani (Senator PPP) 02, Javaid Hussain (Member, GB Assembly - PPP) 01, Shaukat Aziz (Ex-PM/ MNA PML-Q) 01, Mehtab Ahmed Khan (Ex-MNA & Governor, PLM-N) 01, Haji Gul Bar Khan (Ex Health Minister GB, PTI) 01, Lal Muhammad Khan (Ex-Federal Minister, PPP) 01, Farzana Raja (Ex-MNA, PPP) 01, and Asif Ali Zardari (MNA, PPP) 01.

The references returned after June 2022: Abdul Qadir (Senator, PTI) 01, Rubina Khalid (Senator, PPP) 01, Yousaf Baloch (Senator, PPPP) 01, Asif Ali Zardari (MNA, PPP) 02, Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani (Senator PPP) 01, Nawaz Sharif (Ex-MNA/ PM, PML-N) 01, Saleem Mandviwala (Senator, PPP) 01, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf (Speaker/ MNA, PPP) 02, and Shaukat Fayyaz Tarin (Senator, PTI) 02.

References returned/ acquittals ordered by NAB Lahore from 2019 to June 2022: Raja Pervaiz Ashraf (MNA, PPP) 01, Engineer Qamar-ul-Islam (Ex-MPA, PML-N) 01, Hafiz Muhammad Nauman (Ex-MPA, PML-N) 01, Mian M Shahbaz Sharif (PM/ MNA, PML-N) 01, Hamza Shahbaz Sharif (MPA, Ex-CM, PML-N) 01, Sabtain Khan (MPA/ Speaker Punjab Assembly, PTI) 01.

References returned/ acquittals ordered by NAB Balochistan from 2019 to June 2022: Dr Hamid Achakzai (MPA, PKMAP) 01, Muhammad Sadiq Umrani (Ex-MPA, PPP) 01, Nawab Muhammad Aslam Raisani (Ex-MPA / CM) 01. References returned/ acquittals after June 2022: Muhammad Ismail Gujjar (Ex-MPA, PPP) 01, Rehmat Ali (Ex-MPA, Heath Minister, National Party) 01, Mir Muhammad Amin (Ex-MPA/ Excise Minister, PPP) 01, and Asfandyar Kakar (Ex-MPA/ Food Minister, PPP) 01.

References returned/ acquittals ordered NAB Multan from 2019 to-date: Sultan Mahmood Hanjra (Ex-MNA, PML-N) 01.

References returned/ acquittals ordered by NAB Sukkur from 2019 to-date: No against politicians and the parliamentarians, but 23 against other accused.

References returned/ acquittals ordered by NAB Karachi from 2019 to June 2022: No against politicians and the parliamentarians.

References returned/ acquittals by NAB Peshawar from 2019 to June 2022: Sher Azam Wazir, ex-MPA/ ex-Minister Labour, PPP, 01, Arbab Alamgir and Asma Alamgir, ex-MNA, PPP 01 and no parliamentarians.

Justice Mansoor directed the federation’s counsel to inform what happened to those references, which were returned by the Accountability Courts after the amendments in the NAO.

During the proceeding, the chief justice noted that there is absence of the provisions to transfer the cases to any court, agency or the relevant forum, nothing is there and they have piled up. Justice Mansoor observed that in cases where the police have no jurisdiction then in General Law there are provisions for sending them to the relevant agency or the court.

The chief justice said the law simpliciter has been challenged before the Court, “but are we parliamentarians to ascertain that the correct ingredients of law is not there (amendments).” He questioned can the Court read into the law.

He further said there are features which have changed the nature and gravity of the NAB law as the family members and spouse are not responsible for the asset of the accused. Can’t the Court take this into account; this is not ex-facie violation of the fundamental rights?

Justice Ijazul Ahsan said if the reference goes to other forum or agency, which will examine the case from the scratch. When the definition of offences and substantial proof changed, then will it not be impossible to prove the offence?

Makhdoom Ali Khan said if a burden or presumption is made higher or lower by the court then would it not be violative of fundamental rights. If the Court makes procedural changes then would it not affect their fundamental rights?

The case was adjourned until today (Wednesday).

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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