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Karachi

August 12, 2017

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Opposition moves SHC against new graft law

Opposition moves SHC against new graft law

The Sindh High Court on Friday issued notices to the Sindh advocate general, deputy attorney general, law secretary and others on a petition filed by opposition parties challenging the Sindh government’s controversial law to repeal the National Accountability Ordinance in the province.

Muttahida Quami Movement’s leader Farooq Sattar and Pakistan Muslim League-Functional leader Shahryar Khan Mahar and others submitted in the petition that the Pakistan Peoples Party’s government in order to stall the National Accountability Bureau’s working, currently probing several corruption cases against Sindh’s bureaucrats and politicians, introduced the repeal bill in the provincial assembly but it was unlawfully passed without any discussion or debate in the assembly.

The court after a preliminary hearing of the petition issued notices to the federal and provincial law officers and others and called in their comments on August 16. The petitioners maintained that Sindh Governor expressed his reservations on the controversial bill and returned it back to the assembly for reconsideration, but the PPP lawmakers again presented the same unconstitutional bill without any amendments and had it passed again from the assembly.

The National Accountability Ordinance Repeal Act was unconstitutional and has been premised on the fallacious supposition that after the 18th amendment the concurrent list stood abolished and the matter of criminal law, procedure and evidence fell within the ambit of a provincial assembly, observed the petitioners.

They submitted that under Article 142(b) the subject matter of criminal law, procedure and evidence falls both within the federal and provincial legislature, and both legislatures will continue to have concurrent reach in the matter.

It was further added in the petition that Article 143 of the Constitution clearly states that in case of any inconsistency, conflict or repugnancy between the federal and provincial statutes, whether passed before or after the Act, the federal statute will prevail.

The petitioners submitted that the impugned law cannot override the provisions of Article 142 and 143 of the Constitution and the Sindh Accountability Act cannot have any bearing on the operation of NAB Ordinance. 1999.

They alleged that the impugned Act was tantamount to protecting the PPP leadership and their favourite bureaucrats from NAB inquiries, investigation and references which come under the NAB Ordinance; the move militates the right of the petitioner and the people of the province to seek prosecution and corruption of anyone involved in corrupt practices.

The court was requested to declare the repealed law as unconstitutional and ultra vires of the Constitution and that no provision of Sindh Accountability Act can override or eclipse the inquiry, investigation and proceedings under the NAB Ordinance, 1999.

The court was also requested to restrain NAB from shifting or transferring pending inquiries to any other authority in view of enactment of the NAB Ordinance Sindh Repeal Act or the Sindh Accountability Act, till the petition is disposed.

The Act has also been challenged by Pasban leader Altaf Shakoor through the provincial assembly and said that the illegal, unwanted bill was tabled in the Sindh Assembly to save corrupt elements.

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