Govt ‘wasted’ Rs18b through NAO amendments: Imran

Supreme Court to take up former premier Imran Khan’s plea on Tuesday (today)


October 04, 2022
PTI Chairman Imran Khan is addressing a ceremony in Islamabad on Thursday, Sep 22. SCREENGRAB

PTI Chairman and deposed premier Imran Khan has accused the incumbent government of wasting a whopping Rs18 billion of the public money after amending the accountability law in a way that best suited them.

The former premier submitted a written application through his counsel Khawaja Haris before a three-member Supreme Court bench that takes up his plea challenging the recent amendments to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) on Tuesday (today).

Last month, NAB announced that it would not take up corruption cases that involve an amount of less than Rs500 million following amendments to the accountability law.

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The National Assembly passed legislation in this regard on August 3.

In his application, the former PM said that the “entire sum of Rs18 billion of public money has gone down the drain” in pursuant to the amendments to NAO 2000.

Imran noted that the prominent politicians who had so far benefited from the amendments by way of return of references pending against them included Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, former Punjab chief minister Hamza Shehbaz, ex-premiers Yousuf Raza Gillani and Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and Senator Saleem Mandviwalla.

“While ex-President Mr. Asif Ali Zardari has recently (on 07.09.2022) sought a long adjournment from the Accountability Court, No III Islamabad, as he intends to file a fresh application ‘in pursuance of newly amended NAB Act, 2022’, in addition to an earlier application filed by him under the previously amended law,” the application said.

The former premier contended that the anti-graft watchdog during the financial years 2018-19, 2019-2020 and 20-2021 had incurred expenses for inquiring, investigating and prosecuting references pertaining to offences falling under the NAO, 1999 and utilised a sum of Rs3.9, Rs9 and Rs5.1 billion respectively.

“And now, pursuant to the impugned amendments in the law, this entire sum of Rupees 18 Billions of public money has gone down the drain, while, simultaneously, all such references, pending against the former and incumbent holders of public office, and their associates, aiders and abettors, as well as the private persons, on charges of misappropriation of hundreds of billions of rupees belonging to the people of Pakistan, have been brought to naught,” the application stated.

It maintained that since September 1, a large number of references pending before the accountability courts throughout the country had been returned to the NAB, “as, in the light of the amendments which have been challenged in this petition and the accountability courts no longer have jurisdiction to try these cases”.

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“The References thus returned pertain to offences falling inter alia under Sections 9(a)(i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi),(ix),(x),(xii), of NAO, 1999, and have been so returned by invoking provisions of inter alia sections 1(2), 2, 4(a)-(g), 5(o) and 9(a)(vi) of NAO. 1999,” it added.

The application also noted that a large number of references (more than 90% of pending references, if not all) were hit by the amendments but had not been disposed of.

“Similarly, there are numerous (if not all) pending enquiries and investigations which have been or are in the process of being similarly wound up in the light of the provisions introduced in the NAO by the impugned amendments,” the application said.

“It is further submitted that bulk of the References filed by NAB and which were or are pending in the Accountability Courts are in respect of offences under sections 9(a)(v), 9(a)(vi) and 9(a)(ix) of NAO, 1999, and these are the offences that have been radically affected, both substantively and as regards prerequisites for proving the same, by the impugned amendments. And this has been achieved predominantly by introducing amendments or substituting sections 2, 4(a) to 4(g), and 4(3), 5(b), (c), (da), (o) and (q), 9(a)(v) and (vi), 9 (a)(vii), 9(a)(ix), 14, 16,19,25(e), provisos to 25 (b), 26 and 31-A of the NAO, 1999,” it added.

“Additionally, with respect to re-opening of Plea Bargain Agreements, [whether full payments thereunder had been made and obligations discharged by the accused, or some installments were yet to be paid or obligations yet to be discharged], the impugned amendments have introduced sub-sections (ba) and (c) to Section 25 of NAO, 1999, thereby paving the way for such accused to get their plea bargain agreements reserved and for the reimbursement of their ill-gotten wealth, while simultaneously allowing them the benefit of defending the cases earlier made out against them under the new law, [so that now there would be no probability of their conviction in view of the radical changes made through the impugned amendments.”

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