The incumbent government has recently approved changes in the country’s accountability law; the National Accountability Ordinance 1999.
It was approved by President Arif Alvi on Friday, but the latest amendments taken by the incumbent government have hit the core of the accountability law that was first promulgated by then former president Pervez Musharraf in 1999.
The National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019 features:
1.) The NAB cannot take up cases of corruption below Rs500 million
2.) The arrest of government officer requires scrutiny body’s permission
3.) Remand period changes have been made to 90 from 14 days.
4.) NAB officers banned from issuing public statements before filing evidence.
5.) Once completed, no inquiry could be reopened again.
6.) Cases related to taxation will be transferred to other courts.
7.) The jurisdiction of NAB over matters relating to tax, stock exchange, and IPOs has been reduced.
8.) The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBR), Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and building control authorities will be given the sole authorities in matters taken by NAB.
The new ordinance notified, “Notwithstanding anything contained in this ordinance or any other law for the time being in force, no inquiry, investigation, arrest or proceedings against a government servant, under this ordinance, either as an accused or witness, shall be initiated or conducted by NAB without prior approval of the scrutiny committee.”
A petition was filed at the Karachi Registry of the Supreme Court against the new ordinance today that opposes the NAB amendment.
According to the petitioner, all citizens are equal in the constitution of the country, the amended ordinance in violation of the constitution and the fundamental rights of citizens.
According to Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazal (JUI-F) leader Akram Durrani, the NAB ordinance is approved in order to save Prime Minister Imran Khan’s friends.
Many have opposed the new ordinance, one of a social website user was quoted as saying “If the new ordinance was passed in other political party government’s tenure, the most louder voice will be raised of Imran Khan against it.”
What can be the main reason for enforcing this law and containing the power of only a vibrant institution against corruption i.e. NAB?
Some of them even call the new ordinance as an ordinance of corruption as according to the amendment, the bribery below Rs. 5 Crore is legal in Pakistan.
To save their own, #PTI rushing amendments in #NAB laws through an Ordinance. Will @ArifAlvi rescue those being implicated in #PeshawarBRT mega corruption scam & other corruption investigations by signing it? Accountability slogan of @ImranKhanPTI also takes #UTurn ? pic.twitter.com/NIn3tGe0No
— Arshad Sharif (@arsched) December 27, 2019
NAB Ordinance amended! Taxation cases excluded; ‘attempt’ made to protect civil servants from references without evidence & burden of proof shifted somewhat to NAB! However,no mention of 500m threshold,no blanket exclusion of businessmen or bail after 3 months as quoted by media. pic.twitter.com/5tBq2DnZX0
— Taimur Malik (@taimur_malik) December 27, 2019
According to the prime minister, he wanted to introduce amendments in NAB Ordinance 1999 and he had sought suggestions from them.
“Even my friends would be happy with the new law as there were anti-graft cases against them as well,” Imran Khan was quoted saying which helped hyping the new ordinance against him more.
Here is the confession by Selected PM @ImranKhanPTI that “amendments in #NAB Ordinance” have been made to save his friends from NAB (The institution which he uses to victimise political opponents).#حکمراںہوگئےکمینےلوگ pic.twitter.com/ClSMEr306k
— Abdul Majid Kalwar (@Majid_PSF) December 28, 2019
Some blamed the media as well that the media of the country has portrayed the NAB ordinance in a completely different angle.
The News, Dawn, Jang and several other newspapers today published a completely wrong story on NAB law changes. These stories are mostly based on Secretaries committee recommendations. The Ordinance issued primarily address the concerns of business community.
— Ansar Abbas
i (@AnsarAAbbasi) December 28, 2019