ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial Thursday remarked that dishonesty must be checked for the rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution, adding that corruption also affects the economy.
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsen and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, heard the petition of Chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Imran Khan, challenging the amendments made by the coalition government to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999.
During the hearing, Khawaja Haris, counsel for the PTI chairman, continued his arguments and submitted that the amendments under challenge are against the Constitution and the contract between the public and their chosen representatives. He submitted that under the amendments, the public office-holders, as trustees of the public, will evade the accountability process that would also ultimately affect the fundamental rights of citizens as well. “You are right that corruption is a disease and the accountability of people involved in corruption is necessary for maintaining the rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution as it also affects the economy of the country,” the CJP told the learned counsel for the PTI chairman. “But the question before the court is where it could draw a line where fundamental rights have been affected,” the CJP said, adding that the NAB laws are not flawed, but their application is incorrect. The chief justice then asked the learned counsel what the standard would be if the court decided that corruption should be strictly prosecuted. Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah said the court gives daily decisions about violations of fundamental rights. “Tomorrow, if a citizen comes to court saying there is no law against corruption and we ask the parliament to legislate a law, but when that citizen comes back and says the law against corruption is not so rigid and people are acquitted, direct the parliament to make a rigid law,” Justice Mansoor Ali Shah said. “If this is to be done by the court, let us run the parliament,” Justice Mansoor Ali Shah remarked and asked the counsel if their job is to ask the parliament to make rigid legislation.
Justice Mansoor Ali Shah said that climate change is the biggest threat to Pakistan, therefore, there is a dire need to make legislation for tackling climate change, which is more important than the NAB laws. The judge said that the whole of Pakistan is being destroyed as natural calamities like floods have played havoc with the people of the country. Justice Mansoor Ali Shah again questioned if any citizen comes to court and said that the law about climate change is not rigid, hence the parliament is directed to make the law more rigid. “Khawaja Sahib, let us know whether this is our job to do so; I cannot understand,” Justice Mansoor Ali Shah told the counsel. “If you permit me, I can cite the court’s judgments available for answering this question,” Khawaja Haris replied, to which Justice Mansoor Ali Shah replied that he also awaits that day, adding that even he has questions for the last-day arguments of the learned counsel. Meanwhile, the court adjourned further hearings until Nov 21.
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The bench could not proceed due to the non-availability of one of the bench members, court staff said
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