ISLAMABAD: In a decisive 2-1 majority ruling on Friday, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan declared nine out of ten amendments in NAB laws as null and void after accepting the petition of the Imran Khan, the leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
Khan had filed a petition challenging alterations made to the national accountability laws during the previous government led by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM). This judicial panel, consisting of Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, engaged in an extensive process, conducting over 50 hearings regarding Khan’s plea against the legal modifications. The panel held off delivering a verdict until September 5.
Chief Justice Bandial had assured that a concise and definitive decision would be made prior to his retirement, which was scheduled for September 17, a Sunday.
In the majority decision pronounced on the day of the verdict, the Supreme Court ruled to revive corruption cases against public officials that had been closed following the amendments. The apex court also invalidated specific changes that had been made to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) of 1999.
According to the verdict, the majority ruling deemed the petition against amendments to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as admissible, leading to the reinstatement of all previously closed investigations handled by this anti-corruption body.
Furthermore, the Supreme Court ordered the reactivation of all corruption cases involving amounts less than Rs500 million that had been closed against political leaders from various parties and public officeholders. Additionally, the court nullified the amendments in question. As a part of the ruling, the court directed NAB to promptly return all case records to the relevant courts within a seven-day timeframe.
The verdict emphasized that the NAB amendments under scrutiny had implications for the constitutional rights of the public, as outlined in the Constitution.
This decision carries significant ramifications, as the rejection of these amendments means that legal proceedings against influential political figures in the country will once again be transferred to the accountability courts. This group includes individuals such as Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Asif Ali Zardari, Co-Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party, former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, as well as former Prime Ministers Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Raja Pervez Ashraf, who were implicated in references related to Toshakhana, LNG, and rental power.
However, it’s worth noting that Justice Mansoor Ali Shah expressed a dissenting opinion regarding the NAB amendments, indicating a divergence of viewpoints within the panel.