Justice Mansoor asks CJP for full court on NAB amends

ISLAMABAD  -  Judge of Supreme Court of Pakistan Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah Tues­day again urged the Chief Justice of Pakistan to constitute a Full Court for hearing of the petition against NAB amendments.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by CJP Umar Ata Ban­dial and comprising Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah conducted hearing of former prime minister Imran Khan’s petition against the amendments in the National Accountability Ordi­nance (NAO), 1999.

Onset of the hearing, the Chief Justice said that the court has already spent so much time on this case (NAB amendment). He said that Attorney General for Pakistan had conceded the defects in the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act, 2023 and sought time to re­view the law. He said that it was the reason that the court had passed a judgment on Supreme Court Review of Judgment and Orders Act, 2023.

Justice Bandial said that the government had created new right of appeal, while the Con­stitution is clear that there can­not be second appeal against the judgment of the apex court. He stated that on June 1 & 8, 2023 the AGP had sought time to get instructions from the government. The National As­sembly did not make amend­ment in the Practice and Proce­dure Act, and the government of the day has still not decided about this law.

Makhdoom Ali Khan, repre­senting the government, ar­gued that a Full Court judg­ment in Dr Mubashir Hassan states that the order or verdict of the courts can be suspend­ed but not the law. The Full Court through an interim or­der suspended the NRO, in Dr Mubashar Hassan case, was re­called in the final order.

The Chief Justice said that through this Act, salient feature of the Constitution i.e. indepen­dence of th6e judiciary was as­sailed. First time it was tried to control the powers of Chief Jus­tice, therefore, an eight-mem­ber bench stayed the operation of the law.

Kh Haris said that the Act was direct encroachment on the power of the apex court. This was the reason that the 8-mem­ber order was necessary. Justice Ijaz observed even the govern­ment realized to review the Act as there was defect in it, adding the order is still in the field, and it could be disregarded.

Justice Mansoor questioned in the light of the pendency of the Act’s case should the hearing of the instant matter be continued. He added, “I know there were 46 hearings, but I want to for­malize my opinion after hearing the counsels.” Makhdoom said that the law is still in the field and a Full Court be constituted to decide this case.

Justice Mansoor remarked that the petitioner has chal­lenged specific provisions of the amendments made in the NAB law, but now he is changing the petition as more amendment made in NAO. Kh Haris said that he had sought the apex court permission to amend the petition. “I have giv­en the list of each provision that has been challenged, and why I (petitioner) challenged them. The Chief Justice told Kh Haris; “If you would add more facts to the petition then we do not have time.”

Makhdoom Ali Khan contend­ed that the petition is specula­tive in nature, and the petition­er has not identified the Articles and rules laid down by the Su­preme Court which are against the constitution. He submitted that the petitioner has not stat­ed which provisions of law are ex facie unconstitutional. The petitioner is only feeling that the provisions are unfair and unconstitutional.

The Chief Justice said that the ground taken in this case is trusteeship, which is based on the judgments of the apex court. It has been contended by the petitioner that through amend­ments immunity has been given to a certain class, which violates the principle of trusteeship. In the statement of account, the provision related to credit has been changed, and also the con­cept of ‘benami’ changed.

“If I am not mistaken the pe­titioner’s focus is on the elected representatives, and exonerated the civil servants. The civil ser­vants due to the NAB law were hesitant to make policies, add­ing there was so much mistrust at the policy level,” the CJP said.

Makdoon argued that the court is looking at law which re­duces rigour and the statute is made to transfer cases from one forum to another. He further said, “I have not come across any provision of the Constitu­tion which is violated by reduc­ing the sentence, and transfer of cases from one court to another court.” He said that in USA cap­ital punishment in 40 offences were changed to lesser punish­ment. Later, the bench deferred hearing of the case till today.

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