THE PPP-led Sindh government taking advantage of its majority in the provincial assembly has passed the controversial bill to repeal the applicability of the National Accountability Bureau Ordinance 1999 in Sindh.
The National Accountability Ordinance 1999 Sindh Repeal Bill 2017 is intended to clip NAB’s powers in Sindh and to prevent it from investigating malpractices in autonomous and other departments under the provincial government.
There was hullabaloo in the Sindh Assembly when the bill was passed and it faced strong resistance from the opposition benches. This is clear manifestation of the fact that all parties in the provincial assembly are not against NAB and they want to let the bureau do its job.
The Bill has been passed to protect many culprits among politicians and government officers in Sindh against whom NAB has already initiated investigations.
According to the Bill, all proceedings, inquiries and investigations pending under the repealed ordinance immediately before the commencement of this act shall stand transferred to the Sindh anti-corruption establishment.
We know that the establishment is headed and run by provincial officials so it will be smooth sailing to get alleged corrupt politicians and government officers exonerated from the charges.
Moreover, this act is against the laws of the federation. The act is inconsistent and repugnant to the provisions of the Constitution of 1973. Article 143 of the Constitution unequivocally says that if any provision of an act of a provincial assembly is repugnant to any provision of an act of Majlis-i-Shura (parliament), the act of provincial assembly to the extent of repugnancy be void.
No doubt the controversial act will be challenged in the Supreme Court, and it is upon the apex court to explain it and look into the matter.
The most worrying and disturbing thing is that if other provinces also follow suit, then federal laws will lose their importance and enforceability. This will be a direct threat to the federation.
Zaheer Ahmed Cheema
Published in Dawn, July 17th, 2017