ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday finally reserved its verdict on PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s 2022 petition challenging amendments made to the accountability laws, bringing months of extensive proceedings — comprising more than 50 hearings — to an end.
A three-member bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah took up the plea today.
In June 2022, the former premier had moved the apex court against amendments made to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) ordinance under the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Act 2022.
The amendments made several changes to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999, including reducing the term of the NAB chairman and prosecutor general to three years, limiting NAB’s jurisdiction to cases involving over Rs500 million, and transferring all pending inquiries, investigations, and trials to the relevant authorities.
In his petition, the PTI chief had claimed that the amendments to the NAB law had been made to benefit influential accused persons and legitimise corruption.
In recent hearings, Justice Shah has repeatedly urged for a full court to hear the case, citing the matter of the frozen Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) law.
However, CJP Bandial had opposed it, noting that his retirement was near and the matter had already been pending before the court for a considerable time — since at least July 19, 2022.
In the previous hearing, Justice Shah, while questioning the bona fide of the petitioner, had said he sometimes felt tired of pushing too hard to find errors in the NAB amendments.
If someone believes that the amendment is tailored to benefit certain politicians and their family members, then the only available remedy is to throw them out in the elections and elect a new parliament to bring amendments for refining the NAB law, he had said.
During the hearing today, Khawaja Haris appeared before the court as Imran’s counsel while senior lawyer Makhdoom Ali Khan was the federal government’s. Both counsels have completed their arguments in the case.
CJP Bandial noted that it was now on record that references against whom had been returned till May this year, adding that they were “with the NAB till today”.
He remarked that the lack of clarity in the law on crimes such as smuggling, illegal transfer of money, or state assets being used for corruption was “upsetting”.
Subsequently, the apex court reserved its verdict on the matter, with the CJP saying: “We will soon announce a short and sweet verdict of the case.”