SC to hear intra-court appeal challenging NAB law verdict today

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court is set to hear the federal government’s intra-court appeal challenging the verdict in the accountability law amendments case today (Tuesday).

The first intra-court appeal was filed after the implementation of the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan had challenged NAB amendment last year.

The hearing of the appeals will be conducted by a five-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justice Amin-Ud-Din Khan, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Justice Athar Minullah and Justice Hasan Azhar Rizvi.

A three-member bench — headed by former chief justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah — had conducted more than 50 hearings in the case, declaring the first and second NAB amendments in 2022 null and void on September 15 by a majority of 2-1.

The verdict restored the corruption cases against the public office-holders after striking down some of the amendments made by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999, declaring it against the rights pertaining to the public interest enshrined in the Constitution.

Subsequently, the federal government filed an appeal under Section 5 of the SC law against the apex court’s order.

The top court also issued notices to lawyers.

The government had contended that by setting aside the law passed by parliament and making amendments to the NAB law, the apex court had crossed its powers.

It was further contended that parliament was competent to legislate adding that it had enacted a law making amendments to the NAB law.

“If a legislation is repugnant to the fundamental rights of citizens, then the court can set it aside,” it contended but added that the amendments made to the NAB law did not affect the fundamental rights of citizens.

After the verdict, the NAB reopened cases against political bigwigs including the former prime ministers.

Last year in June, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan had filed a petition in the apex court under Article 184(3) of the Constitution praying for annulling the amendments for being “ultra vires to the Constitution”.

The amendments made to the NAB law were struck down by the court including the one which limited the NAB jurisdiction to cases involving over Rs500 million and one which allowed the accused to claim the amount of plea bargain deposited after being acquitted.

The judgment authored by former CJP Bandial declared the petition of Imran Khan as maintainable on account of violating Articles 9, 14, 24 (protection of property rights) and 25 (equality of citizens) of the Constitution and for affecting the public at large because the unlawful diversion of state resources from public development projects to private use leads to poverty, declining quality of life and injustice.

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