SC Rules To Restore Corruption Case Against Pubic Office Holders


SC rules to restore corruption case against pubic office holders

The top court has also struck down some of the changes made to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999.

ISLAMABAD: (UrduPoint/Pakistan Point News-Sept 15th, 2023) A Supreme Court (SC) three-member bench announced a verdict with a majority of 2-1 and allowed former Prime Minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s appeal against amendments made to the country's accountability laws during the previous government led by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).

A bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justices Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Ijazul Ahsan announced the verdict.

The bench conducted more than 50 hearings regarding Khan's petition against the amendments. The judgment was reserved on September 5, and CJP Bandial, who is set to retire on September 17, had promised to deliver a "short and sweet verdict" before his retirement.

In the majority decision, the Supreme Court reinstated corruption cases against public officials that had been closed as a result of these amendments. Besides it, some of the changes made to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) of 1999 were struck down.

As per the verdict, the petition against the NAB amendments was deemed valid by the majority, leading to the reopening of all closed inquiries involving political leaders from various parties and public officials. The amendments were declared null and void.

The court ordered the NAB to return all case records to the relevant courts within seven days. The verdict emphasized that the amendments in question had infringed upon the rights of the public as outlined in the Constitution.

This decision carries significant implications, as it means that references against several prominent political figures in the country will once again be heard in accountability courts. Among those affected are Nawaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Asif Ali Zardari of the Pakistan Peoples Party, former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and Raja Pervez Ashraf, who were facing various charges.

However, Justice Shah expressed dissenting views on the NAB amendments case.

The amendments to the NAB law not only reduced the tenure of the NAB chairman and prosecutor general from four years to three years but also removed all regulatory bodies from NAB's jurisdiction. Besides it, the changes included mandating a three-year term for accountability court judges and requiring them to resolve cases within one year.

In his challenge against the amendments, Imran Khan argued that they were unconstitutional. The petition contended that the amendments to various sections of the NAB law and other related provisions violated several fundamental rights as per the Constitution.

Abdullah Hussain

Abdullah Hussain is a staff member who writes on politics, human rights, social issues and climate change.