Accountability courts across the country have begun referring bribery references to the chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as lawmakers amended the NAB Act to the extent that courts can’t even acquit the accused in court. trial due to lack of jurisdiction.
Following changes to the NAB Act, the Courts of Accountability, where once the most powerful people were tried, began to refer bribery references to the NAB President as the accused could no longer be tried. because the courts had no pecuniary jurisdiction over the cases.
Since the changes were made, court and NAB sources revealed that around 50 corruption references have so far been returned, including references against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, his son Hamza Shehbaz, President of the National Assembly Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. , among several others, as the cases involved amount to less than 500 million rupees.
The government had introduced drastic changes to liability laws and imposed a limit on the jurisdictions of the anti-corruption watchdog. Subsequently, after the amendment of the law, corruption cases below 500 million rupees are no longer within the jurisdiction of the watchdog.
“Due to lack of jurisdiction, even no verdict of acquittal or otherwise can be rendered on the motions filed for the acquittal of the accused,” said Islamabad Accountability Court Judge Muhammad Bashir, in one of his judgments on dismissal of the corruption reference filed against Senator Saleem Mandviwalla and others.
Judge Bashir, who previously conducted the trial of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members in the Panamagate trial, said in the judgment in the Mandviwalla case that “the jurisdiction of this court is ousted by the amendment to the definition of ‘offence’ through the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Act 2022 by describing the value of at least Rs 500 million for the offence’.
In a judgment from a responsible court in Lahore, Judge Muhammad Sajid Ali said that “this court has no jurisdiction to proceed with the trial of this case/reference, therefore, the same is referred to President NAB for that he puts it in front of the relevant forum”.
The court order revealed that Prime Minister Shehbaz was then the Chief Minister of Punjab in aiding, abetting and colluding with his son and co-defendant Hamza Shahbaz, ex-CEO/Director of Ramzan Sugar Mills Ltd , by abuse of power, issued a directive and approved the sludge. carrier.
The court order said that NAB alleged the motive was to provide an easy disposal mechanism for their family’s Ramzan sugar mills and thereby obtained a monetary benefit for themselves and caused a loss to the state treasury at height of 213 million rupees. Referring to recent amendments, the judge ruled that the court had no jurisdiction to go further.
Since taking office, the government has amended the NAB Act and not only limited the jurisdictions of the anti-corruption watchdog, but also banned oversight through agencies and stripped the president of the power to appoint judges. responsible.
The amendments and subsequent court decisions to return the credentials provided new ammunition to the leadership of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) as they equated the changes to leaders giving themselves an NRO – an agreement.
Commenting on the development, PTI Chief Dr. Babar Awan said the institution of accountability is dead as 95% of NAB cases have ended due to the changes. With “NRO-2”, Awan said defendants allegedly involved in corruption cases worth around 2.4 trillion rupees got relief.
Corruption cases have long dominated Pakistan’s political scene and political parties have long used opponents’ corruption cases for political purposes. The slogan of accountability at all levels surfaces from time to time, but it goes away with the same speed as the country continues to drop on the global corruption index.