Govt asks SC to reject Imran’s ‘political petition’ against NAB amendments

Imran’s lawyer tells court it is impossible to prove crime of assets beyond means

People do not declare full assets, income in tax returns: CJP.

ISLAMABAD    -  The federal government on Thurs­day requested the Supreme Court of Pakistan to dismiss Pakistan Teh­reek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s petition against amendments made to the National Accountability Bureau Ordinance.

A three-member SC bench com­prising Chief Justice Umar Ata Ban­dial, Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan and Jus­tice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah heard Imran Khan’s petition against the amendments in the NAB Act. During the course of proceedings, Advocate Makhdoom Ali Khan counsel for the federal government pleaded that the amended petition had been submit­ted and it would be better to notify him so that a reply would also come. 

The court also accepted Imran Khan’s request for preliminary hear­ing against the new amendments.

Imran’s lawyer Khawaja Harris said that it was impossible to prove the crime of assets in excess of in­come. After the amendment, action could only be taken on proving as­sets from corruption money.

The Chief Justice remarked that it is a fact that people do not declare full assets and income in tax re­turns, to which Khawaja Harris said that non-disclosure of income or as­sets, was not a crime under NAB law, and that undisclosed income did not have to be illegal.

The government requested the court to dismiss the petition and ob­jected to its admissibility. The gov­ernment, in its reply, stated that the petition raised a political issue of public importance, not a legal one.

It also claimed that the petition did not articulate in clear and unambigu­ous terms how any provisions of the Amendment Act were repugnant to any of the provisions of the Consti­tution, and was of ambiguous nature. 

The government response further stated that the former premier was not the party affected by the NAB amendments nor was his applica­tion in good faith. It highlighted that the SC had declared that it would not interfere in political matters. Imran Khan himself had been making sim­ilar amendments during his reign through ordinances, it added. 

“The petitioner lacks both locus standi and bonafide. Amendments of similar nature were made, through Ordinances, in the National Account­ability Ordinance, 1999 during the Pe­titioner’s term as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. It is, thus, clear that this petition does not raise constitutional but political questions,” it stated.

The government maintained that Imran had challenged the NAB amendments on Islamic grounds. However, it is the Federal Shari­at Court that has the jurisdiction to declare amendments against Sha­ria law. They added that the NAB amendments could not be nulled on general charges.

“This petition is not maintain­able. It does not raise any question of public importance with reference to any of the Fundamental Rights,” it furthered.

In response, it was said that the conduct of NAB has led to repeat­ed contraventions of fundamental rights of citizens. It has paralysed the government machinery. It has caused economic uncertainty. For­eign direct investment in the coun­try has contracted. Multinational companies have been harassed.

The government highlighted the urgent need to amend the NAO, 1999 in order to bring it in line with the judgments of this Honorable Court and also to curb misuse of authority by and the discretion of NAB. It add­ed that under the Imran Khan gov­ernment various amendments were introduced in NAO, 1999 through promulgation of five Ordinances and that the President did not raise any objection to the advice of the then prime minister before promulgating these Amendment Ordinances.

Later, the court issued a notice to the federal government on Imran Khan’s amended application and ad­journed the hearing of the case till the last week of September

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt