CJP hints at early end to NAB case

By Ali Imran

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial on Tuesday said that the court intended to conclude the NAB amendment case early as it was eventually affecting the execution process of accountability law in the country.
He said: “We need independent investigation officers and prosecutors as their incompetency is affecting the accountability system.” Until now, 386 references had been returned after the amendments in the law, he noted. He stated this during hearing on petition of PTI’s chief Imran Khan against the amendments in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) law.
At the outset of hearing, the chief justice said that there were reports in media regarding the return of PTI to the Parliament. Whether the government would sit with the PTI to address the major issues if it joined the Parliament, he asked. The CJP instructed the government’s counsel to ask its client that whether the court should refer the legislation matter again to the Parliament.
Federal government’s counsel Makhdom Ali Khan said that he couldn’t respond without taking guideline from his client. He said that everything was evident and clear in the parliamentary system, adding the PTI could move the NAB amendment bill after joining the House.
He said that there was no democracy without the politics and there was also a model of national government after World War-II. No law was ever revoked on the basis of assumption about the intention of members Parliament, he said.
The lawyer further said specific PTI’s leaders got relief due to the amendments in the NAB law but no one had challenged this. The NAB case was prepared against a former prime minister, ex-finance minister and chief executive of an institution, and they were later acquitted after many years in prison. The NAB had been used for political engineering in the past, he added.
Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan remarked that the legislation should be enacted with mutual consensus instead of majority in the Parliament. National interests should be given priority in matter of amendments in law, he added.
Justice Ahsan said there was hope hoped that the government and PTI would enact legislation with consensus. He questioned that whether the NAB amendments were the amnesty scheme or not.
Addressing PTI’s lawyer Khawaja Haris, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah said the PTI could move NAB amendment bill in the House. Why it was not joining the House, he asked.
He questioned that whether the court could extend its jurisdiction on the conduct of members of Parliament. Why the court should decide the case of a person who didn’t want to join the Parliament, he said.
He further observed that Imran Khan neither wanted to be part of Parliament’s debate, nor he was ready to accept its decisions. The whole system was being frozen due to this factor, he added and asked whether the returned references couldn’t be moved to any other forum.
Khwaja Haris took the stance that the PTI had left the House under a political decision. Federal government’s lawyer said that there were also other forums for these cases in the country.
He said that the court had declared in GDCI case that the received money would be spent only on gas projects but the said funds disappeared from the exchequer. He said that the money returned to the NAB as result of plea bargains, was also not deposited to the national exchequer. The court adjourned further hearing of the case till January 18.