Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) President Imran Khan has appealed to the Supreme Court against recent amendments to laws governing the supreme anti-corruption body, saying the changes would render the body unable to prosecute crimes in white collar committed by public office holders.
In the 94-page petition, Imran argued that parliament’s amendments to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) laws were a matter of great public importance.
He urged the court to strike down amendments that strip the president of the power to appoint the chairman of the national accountability watchdog and instead give it to the “government”.
Imran argued that this was “ultra vires the Constitution of Pakistan and violated the fundamental rights of the people of Pakistan as guaranteed by Articles 9, 14, 19A, 24 and 25 of the Constitution”.
Further, Imran argued that the changes introduced in Sections 4(2)(a), 4(2)(b), 4(2)(g), 5(o), 8(a)(iii), 16(e) and the two provisions added to s. 25(b), the addition of sub-paragraph (ba) to s. 25 and the deletion of part of s. 25(c) are affected , insofar as all these amendments have the effect of preventively exonerating public office holders and/or their co-conspirators against the corruption offenses and corrupt practices of which they have been accused in multiple cases pending against them , protect them from being prosecuted for such offenses involving the embezzlement of national wealth, state property and public money in the future, and failed to obtain them for the welfare and the benefit of the people in blatant disregard of the sacred trust that the people of Pakistan place in these public office holders.
The PTI leader further asserted that “most of the amendments made to the NAO 1999 are person specific and as such they are fair and just and protect the constitutional and fundamental rights of the citizens of Pakistan”.
Imran also raised questions about the insertion of the term “private person” in the laws when the term “person” exists in the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) of 1999.
The PTI leader also raised questions about amending a voluntary disclosure clause under which such disclosure would result in disqualification from being elected to public office for five years.
Imran argued that such an amendment was “designed to deter such people [voluntarily disclosing] to speak the truth according to their conscience and, as such, constitutes an unreasonable restriction of this person’s fundamental right to freedom of expression under section 19 of the Constitution.
The former prime minister, who has been charged with corruption, said the introduction of section 18C, which requires the head of the NAB or any officer authorized by him, to investigate any matter brought under the NAO 1999 and to make the investigation report available to the accused. before the opening of an investigation, would open the floodgates for litigation by which the accused would challenge the investigation opened against them.
Noting that this would further slow down the process of investigating and filing a referral, the omission of subsection “e” was intended to prevent the arrest of a person against whom there is a clear case.
The investigation completion limit in sub-section “f” would also impede “the thorough investigation of bribery and corrupt practices.”