A panel of three judges, led by Chief Justice Bandial and including Justices Ijazul Ahsan and Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, announces its decision.
The Supreme Court (SC) has invalidated amendments made to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), 1999, last year and accepted a petition from Imran Khan, the chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), challenging these amendments.
A panel of three judges, led by Chief Justice Bandial and including Justices Ijazul Ahsan and Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, announced their decision. This decision involves reopening corruption cases against public officials that were closed due to the amendments. Notable cases include the Toshakhana reference involving Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari, and Yousuf Raza Gilani from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the LNG reference against former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, as well as the rental power reference against former Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.
Meanwhile, Chief Justice Bandial and Justice Ahsan found Imran Khan’s plea to be valid, while Justice Shah disagreed with the majority opinion. The Supreme Court also declared previous judgments issued by accountability courts under the amended laws null and void, instructing the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to send the records back to the relevant courts within seven days.
Last year, in May, the National Assembly passed bills to reverse election reforms introduced by PTI during their tenure, which granted overseas Pakistanis the right to vote. They also made amendments to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) laws. Imran Khan filed a petition in June 2022, challenging the changes made to various provisions of the NAO, which he alleged were designed to favor influential accused individuals and legitimize corruption in cases pending before Accountability Courts.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court reserved its judgment on the petition. At the time, the Chief Justice expressed his appreciation for the cooperation and valuable assistance provided by petitioner’s counsel Khawaja Haris, the federation’s lawyer Makhdoom Ali Khan, and NAB’s prosecutor general.
“We will retire to consider and reserve it, and announce the decision soon. Something short and sweet should come out, that may be done soon.”
Amendments to the bill
According to the NAB (Second Amendment) Bill 2021, the bureau’s deputy chairman, to be appointed by the federal government, would become the acting chairman of NAB following the completion of the chairman’s tenure. The bill also reduced the four-year term of the NAB chairman and the bureau’s prosecutor general to three years.
The bill stated that regulatory bodies functioning in the country would also fall outside NAB’s jurisdiction. Furthermore, the bill limited NAB’s jurisdiction to cases involving over Rs500 million.