Federal Government amends the NAB law; how will it impact the bureau’s working?

The federal cabinet has approved amendments to the NAB law. The opposition has demanded to abolish the black law which targets political opponents. How will changes impact the bureau’s functions?

NAB

The federal cabinet has approved promulgation of eight ordinances, including the amendments to NAB Ordinance 1999 and Benami Transaction Act 2017, to “uplift the living standard of the common man”. The changes were long on the cards and the premier was expected to ensure new legislation to make the NAB laws democratic and inclusive. The opposition has also demanded to amend the NAB law which, they believe, are politically motivated to target political opponents.

PTI’s government blames the former ruling parties, PPP and PML-N, for not focusing on these laws while they were in the office. Both parties now claim to be the main target of the NAB laws and want it to be immediately changed.

Minister for Law and Justice Barrister Farogh Naseem said while addressing a press conference that “it is a defining moment for Pakistan as the federal cabinet has approved eight laws of public interest.”

Mr. Naseem said the laws included The Letters of Administration and Succession Certificates, The Enforcement of Women’s Property Rights Ordinance 2019, The Benami Transaction (Prohibition) (Amendment) Ordinance 2019, The Superior Courts (Courts Dress and Mode of Address) Order (Repeal) Ordinance, 2019, The National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance 2019, Legal Aid and Justice Authority Ordinance, 2019 and ordinances related to the Whistle Blower Act and amendments in the Civil Procedure Code.

Read more: Government & Opposition on same page against NAB: Proposes amendments

He said the succession certificate will be issued within 15-20 days and the process will be carried out through fingerprints. “The identity of the whistle-blower will be kept secret and full protection will be ensured in this regard,” he said, adding that if any recovery is made, up to 20 per cent of the recovered amount will be given to the whistle-blower.

According to the amendment in the NAB Ordinance 1999, a suspect facing corruption charges of Rs50 million will be provided C class facilities in the jail. The suspect would also be entitled for the same class facilities during trial and investigation of the charges.

Mr. Naseem further said the amendments in the Civil Procedural Code (CPC) would ensure speedy and expeditious justice for masses who had been enduring year-long lawsuits in civil courts.

Some analysts believe that former dictator Musharraf’s military regime created the Draconian NAB law as an instrument for political engineering. The aim was not to end corruption but to use the law to change the loyalties of his opponents and punish those who dared to challenge him. Allowing the Bureau an indefinite time period for investigation by filing several cases against an accused under arrest is in violation of natural justice. The NAB chairman has also been given the arbitrary powers to get an accused arrested at any stage of the inquiry or investigation, and detained in the custody of NAB for three months.

However, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal said that those who call the NAB law a black law are thieves. “Many Socrates and Platos have come to life who have never read the NAB law but still criticise it and call it a ‘black law’,” he said.

Read more: NAB is ‘black law’ only for thieves: Javed Iqbal

He further pointed out that “the people who say that NAB and economy cannot go together are wrong. Instead they should say that NAB and corruption cannot go together but NAB and economy can.”

It is important to note that not only opposition but also senior leaders of PTI have also demanded the government to change NAB law. Aleem Khan urged his government to look into changes they can make in the NAB law after he was arrested by the NAB officials.

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