On Friday, the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan invalidated the amendments made to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), 1999, which were enacted last year. The court also accepted a petition filed by Imran Khan, the chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), challenging these amendments.
A three-judge bench, led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Bandial and including Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, delivered the verdict, which included the reinstatement of corruption cases against public office holders that had been closed due to the previous amendments.
CJP Bandial and Justice Ahsan found Imran Khan’s petition to be admissible, while Justice Shah dissented from the majority opinion.
In May of the previous year, the National Assembly had passed bills that reversed election reforms implemented by PTI during its time in power, including granting overseas Pakistanis the right to vote. Additionally, amendments were made to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) laws.
Imran Khan filed a petition in June 2022, contesting alterations made to various provisions of the NAO, which were alleged to have favored influential accused individuals and legitimized corruption cases that were pending before the Accountability Courts.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had reserved judgment on the petition. At the time, the Chief Justice stated, “The cooperation and valuable assistance provided by petitioner’s counsel Khawaja Haris, the federation’s lawyer Makhdoom Ali Khan, and the prosecutor general of NAB were significant. We will retire to consider and reserve it and announce the decision soon. Something short and sweet should come out, that may be done soon.”
Among the key amendments to the bill, the NAB (Second Amendment) Bill 2021 specified that the deputy chairman of the bureau, appointed by the federal government, would become the acting chairman of NAB after the chairman’s tenure ends.
Furthermore, the bill reduced the terms of both the NAB chairman and the bureau’s prosecutor general from four years to three years. Additionally, regulatory bodies operating in the country were excluded from NAB’s jurisdiction, and the bill limited NAB’s jurisdiction to cases involving over Rs500 million.