A five-member bench of the Supreme Court is currently deliberating on the federal government’s intra-court appeal against the verdict on the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) law amendments.
The inaugural intra-court appeal since the enforcement of the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023. Presiding over the bench is Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, accompanied by Justice Amin-Ud-Din Khan, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Justice Athar Minallah, and Justice Hasan Azhar Rizvi. It’s noteworthy that the NAB amendments were previously contested by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan in 2022.
Previous Verdict & Government’s Stance
A prior three-member bench had declared the first two NAB amendments from 2022 as void, a decision that reactivated corruption cases against public officials. This action was based on the judgment that certain changes made by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 opposed public interest rights within the Constitution. Consequently, the federal government appealed against this decision.
The government argued that the apex court had overstepped its boundaries by nullifying the legislation passed by the parliament. They maintained that the parliament had the authority to make legislative changes and that the court could only reject legislation if it infringed upon the fundamental rights of citizens. They further claimed that the amendments to the NAB law didn’t violate these rights.
Repercussions of the Previous Ruling
Following the prior verdict, the NAB resumed cases against several political stalwarts, including past prime ministers. Notably, Imran Khan, in June of the preceding year, petitioned the apex court to nullify the amendments, which he viewed as unconstitutional. The court then invalidated specific changes to the NAB law, including those that restricted the NAB’s authority to cases involving over Rs500 million and another allowing accused individuals to reclaim plea bargain funds after acquittal.
The comprehensive judgment, penned by ex-CJP Bandial, recognized Imran Khan’s petition as valid. It infringed on various Constitutional Articles and adversely impacted the general public due to the unlawful diversion of state assets from public to private use.