Lawyer for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan told the Supreme Court that the recent amendments to the accountability laws made it impossible to prove the crime of accumulating assets beyond means.
A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Atta Bandial, took up a petition filed by Imran, challenging the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Act, 2022. During the hearing, Imran’s lawyer Khawaja Haris started the preliminary arguments.
Haris said that the apex court, while admitting the petition for hearing had declared that the counsel for the federal government might raise objections to the petition. He added that the amendments made it impossible to prove the crime of assets in excess of income.
Previously, he pointed out, action was taken on non-declaration of assets in excess of income. But after the amendment, the lawyer continued, action could only be taken after assets from corruption proceeds were proved.
The chief justice said that it was a fact that people did not declare their full assets and incomes in their tax returns.
However, the lawyer said that non-disclosure of income or assets did not fall under the purview of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
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Khawaja Haris further said that it was not necessary that the undisclosed income would be illegal. Sitting on the bench, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah asked that no law could be invalidated just because if went against the principles of policy-making.
The judge said that there should be laws against gambling and drugs but if there was no law, what the court could do. Haris replied that the apex court had ordered the federal and provincial governments to enact legislation in the cases about coronavirus pandemic and the army chief’s appointment.
Justice Shah further asked the lawy if the court could enact law? Haris replied that in the petition he had requested the court to declare the amendments null and void, not to legislate any law.
He also said that Pakistan was a signatory to the International Anti-Corruption Convention but the latest amendments to the NAB law were against that international convention.
Justice Shah asked could the old law be restored by declaring the amendments null and void? Khawaja Haris responded that if the amendments were repealed, the old Act will automatically be reinstated.
Haris also informed the bench that he had submitted an amended petition and requested that notices be issued so that the response could be filed. The chief justice asked Haris whether he would start arguments immediately or on next date of hearing. He replied that he would argue on the next date.
Instantly, the PTI chief’s lawyer said he would place before the court those amendments which were contrary to the Constitution. Later, the court issued notice to the federal government on Imran Khan's amended petition and adjourned the hearing till the last week of September.
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