Following the Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate changes made to anti-corruption legislation, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has tentatively decided to reopen corruption cases against prominent political figures, as reported by The News on Thursday.
On September 15, a three-judge panel of the Supreme Court, in a 2-1 majority ruling, accepted a petition by Imran Khan, the Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), challenging amendments made to the country’s accountability laws during the previous Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)-led government’s tenure.
The bench, led by then-Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, ordered the revival of all corruption cases involving less than Rs500 million that had been closed against political leaders and public officeholders and declared the amendments null and void.
In accordance with the Supreme Court’s ruling, the anti-corruption agency has written a letter to the registrar of an accountability court in the federal capital.
also read: Supreme Court strikes down NAB amendments
Last week, NAB Chairman Lt-Gen (retd) Nazir Ahmed Butt called for a consultative meeting to chart out the future course of action.
NAB is expected to present the records of all cases to the court within the next two days for the resumption of hearings. These cases will include those against former Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif, Yousuf Raza Gillani, Raja Pervez Ashraf, Shehbaz Sharif, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former President Asif Ali Zardari, former Chief Ministers of Sindh and Punjab, as well as numerous former federal and provincial ministers.
Sources indicate that NAB is still in the process of legally reviewing previously closed cases and compiling records for cases at various stages, including complaint verification, inquiries, and investigations.
NAB’s regional offices in Rawalpindi, Lahore, Multan, Sukkur, Karachi, Peshawar, and Quetta are working to compile complete case data for submission to accountability courts. Sources stated, “NAB will fulfill its obligations once legal consultations are finalized in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in the NAB amendments case.”
It has also been reported that cases related to fake accounts involving Zardari and the rental power plants case against Ashraf have been reopened. Additionally, the Toshakhana vehicles cases involving Zardari, Nawaz, and Gillani will also be reinvestigated.
Other politicians who may face cases include former Chief Minister of Sindh Murad Ali Shah, former Finance Minister Miftah Ismail, and former Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar for allegedly accumulating assets beyond their known sources of income.
The NAB amendments not only reduced the tenure of the NAB chairman and prosecutor general from four years to three years but also removed all regulatory bodies from NAB’s jurisdiction.
Furthermore, the amendments stipulated a three-year term for accountability court judges and required courts to make decisions on cases within one year.
Imran Khan challenged these amendments, arguing that they were unconstitutional. His petition contended that changes to various sections of the NAB law violated the Constitution, as well as fundamental rights enshrined in Articles 9, 14, 19, 24, and 25. He requested that all these NAB law amendments be declared null and void.
A special three-member bench was formed on July 15, 2022, to hear Khan’s plea, with the first hearing taking place on July 19, 2022. Both the federal government and NAB were made parties to the petition.