NAB law amendments to be sent back to Parliament: CJP

Chief Justice Omar Ata Bandiyal – Website of the Supreme Court of Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Recent amendments to the National Accountability (NAB) Ordinance will be sent back to Parliament as the court cannot take away the powers of the legislature, Chief Justice Omar Ata Bandiyal remarked while hearing a petition filed by PTI.

“In my opinion, the matter will be sent back to Parliament. no alternative to parliament […] And we cannot take away its powers,” the CJP said while hearing a plea by PTI challenging the amendments made in the NAB Act.

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court – comprising CJP Bandiyal, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Ijazul Ahsan – heard the petition filed by PTI chairman Imran Khan.

PTI chairman Imran Khan had filed a petition in the apex court under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, stating that the bill has “virtually abolished”.[d] Any white-collar offense committed by a holder of public office”.

The joint session of Parliament last month passed the National Accountability (Amendment) Bill, 2022, which curtailed the right to anti-corruption oversight and reduced remand days among other amendments.

However, PTI, whose MPs had resigned en masse from the National Assembly, was not present to oppose the changes and later opted to challenge the amendments in the apex court.

The Supreme Court, after hearing arguments of PTI counsel Khawaja Harris and former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, adjourned the hearing till 11 am on July 29 (Friday), while also allowing the NAB, the federal government and the attorney-general to present their case. issued notice for Side of the story in the next hearing.

At the start of today’s hearing, CJP Bandiyal asked whether Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar’s claim – that all the changes made in the NAB law backed Supreme Court orders – was true.

In response, PTI’s lawyer Harris said: “I don’t think that is the case. The amendments are contrary to the orders of the Supreme Court, but they are not in conformity with them.”

Justice Ahsan remarked that many of the changes were approved “in a hurry”. Justice Shah asked: “Is it not the job of law makers to make laws and courts have repeatedly asked them to draft NAB laws?”

In response, Harris said: “Fundamental rights are being violated through this NAB law.”

Following Harris’ arguments, Justice Shah asked whether lawmakers should not be allowed to exercise their powers to make laws.

To this Harris asked whether he would be allowed to do so if Parliament decided that there should be no punishment for murder.

Justice Shan replied that if Parliament abolishes the death penalty as a punishment for murder, then what can the court do in it.

“The death penalty is a different matter. Where corruption and the national treasury are involved, the issue of Fundamental Rights is involved.”

The CJP then asked the people representing PTI that all these matters could have been raised in Parliament, then why did the party not debate there.

‘Why didn’t you represent 40% of the people in Parliament?’

“Do you know whether all these issues were raised in Parliament or not?” CJP asked that PTI leader Qureshi reach the stage.

The CJP told Qureshi that when the NAB amendments were being passed, there was no one to oppose him in Parliament.

“When sensitive matters are being discussed, all MLAs are present in the house, where were you?” CJP asked

Qureshi said he understands the role of the court.

“Answer our questions; Because of such cases, the affairs of the common man get stalled.

Justice Ahsan asked: “Why didn’t you represent 40% of the people in Parliament?”

Justice Shah remarked, “The faith the people had placed in you as a member of the Legislative Assembly is not being fulfilled.”

To this, PTI leader Qureshi apprised the court that the NAB amendments were discussed by the parliamentary committee for several hours.

“Perhaps you are talking about the committee meeting that took place before the no-confidence motion,” Justice Hassan said.

Meanwhile, Justice Mansoor asked, “Why did you walk out of the Assembly when you were aware of the importance of the NAB amendments?”

Qureshi argued that the Treasury Bench bulldozed the NAB amendments by a majority.

CJP Bandiyal remarked that the matter of NAB amendments has to go back to the legislature as the court cannot exercise the powers of Parliament.

“How can the court issue an stay order against a law made by the Parliament?” asked CJP

Referring to the points raised in the courtroom, the top court asked why these points were not discussed in Parliament.

The top court said that the court needs more help from Qureshi on these points.

Justice Mansoor asked whether the petitioner was entitled to the right to file an application against the NAB amendments when he was out of session.

Sometimes personal priorities have to be compromised for the sake of the country and the public, CJP Bandiyal remarked and asked whether PTI has devised any plan to get the country out of tough times.

To this Justice Mansoor said that the House is a related forum and leaving the House and moving the Court, “How did you become the affected party?”

Responding to the question, Qureshi said that the PML-N had a majority in the assembly, adding that even if they had opposed it, the bill would have been bulldozed.

The CJP said: “There is a proposal hidden in our questions. Consider this for the sake of the people. ,

CJP Bandiyal said that the government has entered into an employee-level agreement with the IMF, but it has not been publicly acknowledged, the value of the rupee is falling day by day.

To this Harris argued that it is the right of the people not to abuse their powers.

The lawyer said that abuse of power is an offence, but it has been made impossible to prove. He said that accountability courts can no longer accept information received from abroad as evidence.

Justice Ahsan said that money laundering is also no longer a crime, it will also be an offense when someone accumulates property through money.

The counsel continued his arguments saying that all fake account cases will be put to an end due to the new amendments in the NAB laws.

Meanwhile, the court sought response from the government and NAB in this regard.