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The Supreme Court has ruled that the convicts’ 10-year disqualification from holding a public office would only start after they had paid the fine imposed on them apart from serving their jail time.
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Asif Saeed Khosa has ruled that the 10-year disqualification of a corruption case convict under Section 15(a) of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 would commence from the date on which they had completed their prison term as well as paid their fine.
While taking a harsher stance on corruption cases, Justice Khosa has held that the money amassed through corruption would have to be returned even if a convict died. After their death, the money will be recovered from their heirs.
In the Avenfield case, CJP Khosa had issued strict guidelines regarding the suspension of a convict’s sentence and granting of bail.
“A sentence of imprisonment over default in payment of fine is not a substitute for the payment of fine but as a matter of fact, the said sentence of imprisonment is a punishment for non-payment,” The Express Tribune quoted the CJP as stating in the judgment.
“It had also been made clear by this court in case even if the sentence of imprisonment over default in payment of fine is undergone by a convict, the amount of fine is still to be recovered from him,” the verdict read.
Bail in NAB Cases
Last year, the paper reported, the CJP had delivered a judgment on granting bail to a suspect in a NAB case. He had observed that the constitutional jurisdiction of a high court to grant bail in NAB cases was an extraordinary one and it had to be exercised in extraordinary circumstances only and not in run-of-the-mill cases.
Likewise, his views are also strict about granting pre-arrest bail in criminal cases. In the Avenfield case, CJP Khosa had issued strict guidelines regarding the suspension of a convict’s sentence and granting of bail.
Read more: NAB asks IHC to dismiss Nawaz’s bail request
Justice Khosa has also expressed his views on how to deal with matters related to corruption. In his 192-page minority judgment in the Panamagate case, the paper stated, he observed that corruption at high places was not a new phenomenon but the methods of corruption and concealing the proceeds of corruption had seen a dramatic change in recent times.
Citing cases adjudicated by international tribunals, the CJP noted that the standard of proof in relation to corruption and corrupt practices was “balance of probabilities” (allowing inferences from circumstantial evidence) and not “beyond a reasonable doubt”.
Lawyers Disagree with CJP’s Verdict
Meanwhile, senior lawyers differed with the ruling and held the opposite opinion. A former Supreme Court Bar Association president Rasheed A Rizvi strongly disagreed with jurisprudence evolved through the CJP’s verdicts.
He wondered how the heirs could pay the fine after the death of a convict. Rizvi also said the high court’s jurisdiction to grant bail had been curtailed and the NAB chairman had been given unlimited power to arrest anyone.
A senior lawyer, who did not want to be named, believed that credibility deficit and depolarization was the biggest challenge faced by the incumbent judiciary. “Right now, the judiciary is seen in one camp. It should be bipartisan instead,” he said.