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Tuesday July 16, 2024

No serious efforts made to remove flaws leading to corruption: CJP

CJP Justice Umer Ata Bandial observed that serious efforts were never made to remove the existing flaws in the system, hence due to the weak system, the government cannot dig out corruption in the projects

By Sohail Khan
December 14, 2022
Chief Justice of Pakistan, Umer Ata Bandial. The SCP website.
Chief Justice of Pakistan, Umer Ata Bandial. The SCP website.

ISLAMABAD: The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Umer Ata Bandial, on Tuesday observed that serious efforts were never made to remove the existing flaws in the system, hence due to the weak system, the government cannot dig out corruption in the projects.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Umer Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsen and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah heard the petition filed by former prime minister and Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan, challenging the amendments made by the coalition government in the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999.

Khwaja Haris, counsel for PTI chairman while continuing his arguments, submitted that the apex court had struck down the appointments of heads of different organisations who had greatly affected the fundamental rights of citizens of this country. “Your lordship had intervened in matters involving the protection of fundamental rights of the people,” the PTI counsel told the court. The counsel contended that when the Executive could not fulfil its constitutional obligation, people prefer to knock on the doors of the apex court for relief.

At this, Chief Justice Umer Ata Bandial observed that the despite the court’s decisions, corruption could not be wiped out. “This is not the matter of only corruption but it’s a matter of a system full of flaws,” the CJP remarked adding that no serious efforts were made for removing the existing flaws in the system.

The Chief Justice recalled that in the past, the court gave judgments in the Pakistan Steel Mills case as well as in Reko Diq in good faith. The Chief Justice observed that due to the weak system, the government cannot dig out corruption allegations made in projects. “Due to misuse of NAB laws, the business community was greatly affected and their businesses were destroyed”, the CJP remarked.

The Chief Justice observed that it was the obligation of parliament to make laws for improving the system and then ensure implementation of those laws in letter and spirit in the best interest of the public at large.

The Chief Justice observed that amendments were made by an incomplete assembly adding that still, no law is available on this point as to whether an incomplete House can make legislation or not. “Due to political strategy, half of the National Assembly had boycotted the proceedings”, the CJP observed.

Justice Ijazul Ahsen, another member of the bench, observed that the amendments under challenge have benefited those who enacted them. “This was a direct conflict of interest as those who amended the NAB law were the ultimate beneficiary as well,” Justice Ahsen remarked adding that the amendments were made in haste as neither discussion was made on the move nor any of its records were available. “The question now arises as to whether in such a situation, the court should watch it only as a silent spectator,” Justice Ahsen observed.

The Chief Justice observed that corruption cannot be tolerated and one should not be pardoned for corruption. Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah observed that there is no doubt that corruption is wrong and should not be tolerated as well. “But the question arises as to how it could be wiped out and by whom,” Justice Shah asked.

“It is the job of the executive to make serious efforts for eradicating corruption”, Khwaja Haris replied adding that if the executive cannot do its job, then the court has to intervene.

The Chief Justice, however, observed that progress has also been made in the country in some matters adding that it is a welcome sign that media in Pakistan is free and bringing facts and truth before the public.

Replying to the question earlier asked by Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Khwaja Haris submitted that the armed forces were not excluded from the ambit of NAB law adding that in Asfandyar Wali’s case, this question was also raised.

Khwaja Haris, however, submitted that the NAB law does not apply to the officers of armed forces working in their own companies but it applies to those officers of armed forces who are working in civil organisations, either at the federal or provincial level. Justice Mansoor Ali Shah observed that Army Welfare Trust is a group of companies. Justice Ijazul Ahsen observed that in the past, some military officers were proceeded against and examples are available adding that former Naval Chief Admiral Mansoor-ul- Haq was brought back to Pakistan and the NAB had proceeded against him.

The PTI counsel submitted that even the NAB law is not applied to the judiciary as well adding that the apex court in the past had held that no writ could be filed against armed forces on the matter of discipline.

Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, however, observed that a writ cannot be filed either for appointments or transfer.

The judge asked the PTI counsel as to which party was in power when the apex court gave the judgment in 2001. The apex court had given the judgment irrespective of who was in power at that time, Khwaja Haris replied

Justice Mansoor Ali Shah observed that Article 25 of the Constitution talks about equality hence nobody could be dealt with partiality.

Meanwhile, the court adjourned the hearing for today (Wednesday) while Khwaja Haris will answer the court queries.