Supreme Court of Pakistan reinstates Corruption Cases

After 56 court hearings, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of Pakistan reserved the judgement against NAB Amendments on September 5, 2023. Today, the Supreme Court of Pakistan reinstated corruption cases against public office holders, which were technically washed-up by the PDM government. The verdict rendered by the Hon’ble Supreme Court counts as 2-1 against all amendments made to the country’s accountability laws by the PDM government immediately after assuming power in April 2022.

The reserved verdict was announced by a three-member bench, which comprised of Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah. The case was filed by the PTI Chairman Imran Khan challenging these amendments citing it to be a blatant illegality.

CJP Bandial and Justice Ahsan Uphold Imran’s Plea

The Hon’ble Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan affirmed while declaring Imran’s plea to be maintainable, legal as well as marked it as a pivotal moment in this case. Both Hon’ble Judges rules in favor of not only reinstating the corruption cases finished by the PDM government but also reinstated the investigations & inquiries that had been withdrawn after the amendments.

Unconstitutional Amendments Struck Down

In addition to above, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of Pakistan struck down few amendments to the accountability laws declaring them conflicting with the Constitution of Pakistan 1973. The amendments struck down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court included the core clause of National Accountability Bureau i.e., going after crimes only exceeding the amount of Rs. 500 million and allowed acquitted individuals to claim plea bargain deposits.

Supreme Court of Pakistan’s Restoration of Withdrawn Cases

The Hon’ble Supreme Court’s decision dictates that all cases which were withdrawn after limiting National Accountability Bureau’s jurisdiction to cases floating below Rs. 500 million, must be given dates and set for hearing in the Accountability Courts. Moreover, in connection to the direction rendered by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, all verdicts decreed under the amendment NAB laws by the Accountability Court are declared as null and void.

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Proceeding with Restored Proceedings

The Hon’ble Court’s written order directed that all references, inquiries and investigations that were decided based on the struck-down sections of NAB laws are reinstated to their positions before the enactment of the 2022 Amendments passed by the PDM government. All these cases are deemed pending before the concerned authorities and the Hon’ble Supreme Court of Pakistan further directed the NAB and accountability courts to proceed with these restored proceedings in accordance with the law.

Justice Shah’s Dissenting Note

Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah dissented from the majority verdict, stressing upon the paramountcy of parliamentary democracy and the separation of powers between the state’s three organs. He argued that the majority failed to appreciate the constitutional command that the state’s power should be exercised through elected representatives of the people. Supreme Court reinstates Corruption Cases.

PTI’s Challenge to Amendments

In June 2022, PTI Chief Imran Ahmad Khan Niazi had challenged the amendments made to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) ordinance. The former Prime Minister prayer before the Hon’ble Supreme Court included changes such as reducing the terms of the National Accountability Bureau Chairman and Prosecutor General to 03 years, transferring pending inquiries, investigations, and trials to relevant authorities and lastly restricting NAB’s jurisdiction to cases involving over Rs500 million.

Mixed Reactions from Politicians

The moment judgement was announced, National media started reporting the bits and pieces of the judgement. For some Pakistanis, this judgement came as a pleasant surprise, but for few it struck them in an unpleasant manner. Politicians have had mixed reactions to the verdict on national as well as social media.

While some politicians, like Former PMLN Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, congratulated their arch opponent party PTI and its Chief Imran Khan, and others, such as PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, reiterated People Party’s Official stance that National Accountability Bureau is a dictator-made institution and it deals in business that hurt only politicians.

Farewell to CJP Bandial

With this judgement, Hon’ble Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial bids farewell as he has approached his retirement. He expressed gratitude to the State of Pakistan for bestowing the opportunity on him to serve as the Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan and also stressed upon the importance of criticism based on facts in the judicial process.

Supreme Court reinstates Corruption Cases

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