Saturday July 13, 2024

If judges not exempt, why army kept out of NAB reach: Supreme Court

The top court observed that the Pakistan Army was not in the ambit of NAB law and asked the counsel for Imran Khan about his viewpoint on the matter

By Sohail Khan
December 13, 2022
The Supreme Court of Pakistan. The SCP website.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan. The SCP website.

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday observed that the Pakistan Army was not in the ambit of NAB law and asked the counsel for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman about his viewpoint on the matter.

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 filed by former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan, challenging the amendments made by the coalition government to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999.

During the hearing, Justice Mansoor observed that even judges are not out of the ambit of NAB and asked the lawyer as to what are the reasons for keeping the Army out from the ambit of NAB law.

“Whether this process of keeping the army out of the ambit of NAB law is constitutional or unconstitutional in the eyes of PTI,” he asked the counsel. The judge asked the counsel to explain this today (Tuesday) during his course of arguments.

Earlier, Justice Mansoor asked the counsel for Imran that as to how democracy can flourish in the country when lawmakers prefers to take decision taking to the streets instead of sitting on the floor of the House.

“According to your arguments parliamentarians were the trustees of public then if a person gets millions of votes and say that he will take decisions on roads whether it’s a democracy,” he asked Khwaja Haris advocate.

“How democratic process will continue if the elected representatives leave Parliament and take decisions on roads,” Justice Mansoor asked the PTI chairman’s counsel. He was of the opinion that if parliamentarians had won the trust of the public and elected then they should sit in Parliament.

Khwaja Haris, while continuing his arguments, submitted that the Supreme Court had filled the legal vacuum in the matter of extension of Chief of Army Staff. He recalled that the apex court in the case of Asfandyar Wali Khan had declared the amendments null and void.

Justice Mansoor, however, observed that in the said case the court had declared the law null and void for being violation to fundamental rights. Justice Ijazul Ahsen observed that the NAB law has become infructuous after omitting some provisions through the recent amendments under challenge.

“The petitioner in this case, while challenging the amendments, has prayed for restoring the law to its original shape,” Justice Ijaz remarked. But Justice Mansoor observed that the amendments made to those provisions of NAB law are not against fundamental rights.

CJP Umar observed that the amendments made to NAB law are an improvement in the country’s law which was earlier criticised for having some flaws in it. “Under the law any person could be arrested and detained for 90 days on mere allegations,” the CJP remarked, adding that the recent amendments made to the law are a headway in the country’s law.

The counsel for Imran Khan, however, submitted that he was not in favour of any arrest in the criminal case or in NAB case during the course of investigation.

“We don’t want annulment of all the amendments made to the NAO 1999,” Khwaja Haris submitted but added that the intention of Parliament for making amendments should also be looked into as well.

“In order to see the intention of Parliament, we will have to see the debates made on the amendments under challenge”, Justice Mansoor observed. Khwaja Haris, however, submitted that no debate was held in Parliament on the amendments.

Justice Mansoor Ali Shah observed that it was the stance of the Federation’s counsel that amendments were made in light of the judgments passed by the Supreme Court. “Amendments to NAB law were not made on the basis of apex court’s judgments,” Khwaja Haris replied to which Justice Mansoor again asked as to whether public is also saying something against the amendments or the court should itself determine that the amendments have affected the public.

The judge observed that the NAB amendments were also challenged in Islamabad High Court (IHC) and asked the PTI counsel if it would be correct when the Supreme Court decides the case. Khwaja Haris replied that it was the choice of the petitioner, who approached the IHC.

The CJP observed that in Darshan Masih case, the public had approached the court for relief. “Whether the public has approached the court in NAB amendments case,” the he asked the PTI counsel.

Khwaja Haris replied that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) had approached the Supreme Court in Darshan Masih case, adding that they wish that NGOs should also be established against corruption. Meanwhile, the apex court adjourned the hearing for today (Tuesday) wherein Khwaja Haris will continue his arguments.