The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) recovered more than Rs36 billion through plea bargain in the last five years, Law Minister Zahid Hamid informed the National Assembly on Thursday.

According to a document submitted to the House, NAB processed 582 plea bargain cases between January 2013 to March 2017. The document, a copy of which is available with DawnNews, read that NAB recovered Rs36.278 billion during the above-mentioned period.

The law minister further apprised the House that the accountability watchdog registered 3,035 cases of corruption during the last five years. “In 2016, the highest 914 cases were registered,” he added.

Moreover, the highest number of graft cases were registered in Punjab and Islamabad Capital Territory during the five-year period. "In Punjab and federal capital, 1340 cases were registered, in Sindh 841 cases and in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 513 cases of corruption were registered," the minister said.

Also read: New law aims to make plea bargains stigma

Last year, the Supreme Court of Pakistan had observed that voluntary return of the embezzled money by public servants under the provisions of the National Accountability Bureau Ordinance was increasing corruption and such officials should not be allowed to remain in service.

Following which the government amended controversial provisions governing plea bargains and voluntary returns in the National Accounta­bility Ordinance (NAO), 1999, disqualifying those who have availed these options from holding public office for life.

President Mamnoon Hussain promulgated the ordinance, called the National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance 2017 and merged both provisions, which means that both now require court approval.

Earlier, only plea bargains were sent to the concerned accountability courts for a final nod; while voluntary returns merely required the approval of the chairman of National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Previously, those who opted for voluntary returns were not disqualified from holding public office and could resume their duties forthwith.

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