NAB’s conduct ‘paralysed’ govt machinery

Govt submits reply in SC over accountability law tweaks


Hasnaat Malik August 20, 2022

ISLAMABAD:

The government has told the Supreme Court that the conduct of NAB has “paralysed” the government machinery and contended that the country’s socioeconomic woes were caused by the top graft buster's controversial proceedings.

In a concise statement submitted to the apex court on Friday, the government’s lawyer mounted a defence of the recent amendments to the accountability laws as a three-member special bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah heard the petition filed by PTI chief Imran Khan challenging the tweaks.

Makhdoom Ali Khan, counsel for the federal government, said it was a well-known fact that the NAB’s conduct has led to “repeated contraventions of fundamental rights of citizens”. He further stressed that the watchdog has caused economic uncertainty as a result of which foreign direct investment in the country has contracted while multinational companies have been harassed.

The statement said that there was an urgent need to amend the NAO, 1999 in order to bring it in line with the judgments of the Supreme Court and also to curb misuse of authority by and the discretion of NAB.

Read more: NAB acted as 'instrument' of persecution: CJ

"Under the Constitution, it is the duty of the state to protect fundamental rights of citizens. To promote and ensure a fair and democratic dispensation."

‘Court must avoid political thicket’

Makhdoom further contended that the route suggested by the petitioner – Imran Khan – the court would risk landing itself straight into the political thicket as no “judicially manageable legal standard” could provide a way out.

He noted that the top court must resist getting embroiled in the “hotly contested political controversy”.

Raising objections on the maintainability of the petition, the statement said that Imran (as a petitioner) lacked both locus standi and bona fide, adding that amendments of similar nature were made through ordinances in the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 during his own term as the prime minister of the country. “It is, thus, clear that this petition does not raise constitutional but political questions.”

"This honourable court has repeatedly held that it does not decide political questions. There is no controversy before the court which calls for a decision in the context of a case. For this reason along the petition is both premature and academic. This court does not decide academic questions. It also does not rule on issues which are not ripe for adjudication.”

"This petition is not maintainable. It challenges the validity of an act of parliament for its alleged repugnancy to the Injunctions of Islam. The jurisdiction to decide such questions is exclusive to the Federal Shariat Court under 203D read with Article 203G of the Constitution.”

A statute cannot be struck down on vague allegations of repugnancy to Article 2A of the Constitution and/or the Injunctions of Islam, it added.

"The petition does not articulate in clear and unambiguous terms how any of provisions of the Amendment Act is repugnant to any of the provisions of the Constitution."

It stated that it was a settled view of the apex court that every effort must be made to save an act of the parliament, adding that the top court, after exhausting all efforts, could only strike down an act of the parliament only when provisions of a statute cannot be reconciled to a provision of the Constitution. That test is not met in the petition, it argued.

The counsel in the statement further pointed out that the petition runs contrary to the principle of trichotomy of power provided in the Constitution as it sought judicial review of a legislative enactment without it having transgressed any constitutionally recognised limits.

"The petition does not raise any question of public importance with reference to enforcement of any of the fundamental rights. A statute cannot be struck down on the basis of principles of policy, Objectives Resolution, and Article 2A of the Constitution.”

"The title petition seeks to create an impression that the offence of corruption has been abolished by the Amendment Act. This is incorrect. The legislative intent is clear," the statement concluded.

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