All eyes on SC as CJP Bandial promises 'short and sweet' verdict in NAB laws' amendment case

The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved its verdict on a petition filed by the PTI chairman in 2022 against the amendments to the accountability laws. 

The apex court is set to wrap up the case after more than 50 hearings. 

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, resumed hearing on the petition. 

The PTI chief had argued that amendments will “virtually eliminate any white-collar crime committed by a public officer holder.” 

After coming into power in April last, the PDM-led government approved the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Act 2022 - a move that was described by the PTI as an attempt to curtail the powers of the anti-graft watchdog.

In July 2022, the federal cabinet also passed the National Accountability (Third Amendment) Bill, 2022, which restricts the organisation role in corruption cases involving over Rs500 million and revoking the president’s authority to appoint judges of the accountability court.

During December last hearings, CJP Umar Ata Bandial had commented that the amendments to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) ordinance would slide Pakistan 100 points down in the world corruption index. 

Justice Ijazul Ahsan had remarked that the amendments were carried out only to benefit the very lawmakers who legislated on it.

In recent hearings, Justice Shah called for forming a full court to hear the petition. However, the chief justice opposed it, remarking that the case had been pending since July 2022 and that he was set to retire this month.

During today’s hearing, PTI chief’s lawyer Khawaja Haris and federal government’s counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan submitted their final arguments.

At one point, the chief justice remarked that it was now on record that graft references returned by the accountability courts till May this year were still pending with the NAB till today. He also pointed out a lack of clarity in the amended law.

Later, the three-member bench reserved its verdict, with CJP Bandial saying that the short verdict would be announced soon. He also remarked that the verdict would be short and sweet.

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