Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Wednesday maintained that the tweaks to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) laws "exonerated the holders of public office from being held accountable".
According to a statement submitted by the ex-premier to the Supreme Court ahead of the hearing of PTI’s case against the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Bill, 2022, “It is the case of the petitioner that the impugned amendments have, inter alia, had the effect of exonerating the holders of public office from accountability with respect to any decision that they may have taken, or may take in future, regarding public money, state assets or national wealth, notwithstanding that such decisions were/are the result of corruption and corrupt practices, and, as such, inevitably led/lead to the dissipation of state assets, national wealth or public money and/or to the illicit enrichment of the holders of public office, or any other person at their behest, and at the expense of the welfare of the people of Pakistan.”
A three-judge bench of the apex court led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial will resume the hearing of the case tomorrow (Thursday).
The plea submitted through former PM's counsel Khawaja Harris maintained, “The question is that in case the claim of the petitioner as noted above is correct, what fundamental rights of the people of Pakistan stand violated by the impugned amendments. In this respect, it is submitted that the answer to this question is dependent upon the direct and inevitable consequences flowing from the impugned amendments."
The petition also stated direct and inevitable consequences of the impugned amendments.
“Where this trust is breached, and instead of utilising these assets for the welfare of the people, the same are misappropriated by the chosen representatives or utilised for their own illicit enrichment, or for the illicit enrichment of any other person, such acts of the chosen representatives now stand virtually decriminalised, and any possibility of retrieval of these assets has been placed beyond the reach of the people of Pakistan,” the statement added.
It said that these amendments allow the holders of public office to deprive the people of Pakistan of their property through gross criminal misconduct.
The plea also stated that these amendments exonerated the holders of public office from being held accountable for their acts in discharge of the trust reposed in them by the people of Pakistan.
“In support of the proposition that the exoneration of the holders of public office from accountability with respect to any action or decision taken by them by resorting to corruption or corrupt practices tantamount to violation of fundamental rights of life, liberty, dignity, protection of property, equality and freedom of trade and profession vested in the people of Pakistan by virtue of articles 9, 14, 18, 23, 25 and 27 of the Constitution, reliance is placed on the following judgments,” the petition added.
Earlier this year, the National Assembly and the Senate passed the Elections (Amendment) Bill 2022 and the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Bill 2021, with a view to bringing the necessary reforms the coalition parties had promised.
The government’s decision to steer the legislation into law was vehemently condemned by Imran, who had termed it a “black day” in the country’s history, charging the “imported government” with ending accountability. He had claimed that the ruling elite would reap the biggest fruits from the tweaks.