ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday admitted the petition filed against amendments to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) and issued notices to secretaries at the law ministry and Cabinet Division.

IHC Justice Aamer Farooq also issued a notice to the attorney general of Pakistan while hearing the petition of Islamabad High Court Bar Association (IHCBA) President Shuaib Shaheen.

After hearing preliminary arguments, the court adjourned the matter till Aug 16.

The petition stated that the amendments had been introduced by the alleged beneficiaries and requested the court to seek details of pending cases, investigations and inquiries against influential figures.

“Can the elected representatives of the people of Pakistan be allowed to deprive the people of Pakistan from holding their chosen representatives accountable by altogether withdrawing the accountability laws from the statute book, or by weakening the efficacy of the accountability laws to such an extent to make these completely ineffectual or merely ornamental,” the petitioner said.

The petition referred to Article 2-A, arguing that people had the “right to question their chosen representatives”. It further added that the amendments “deprived” the citizens of their right to question their elected representatives; therefore, it violated “fundamental right to life, dignity and protection of property as guaranteed by Articles 9, 14 and 24”. NAB’s amendments have “taken away the most serious and bulk of white collar crimes out of the pale of law and made them immune from criminal prosecution”.

A similar petition against these amendments was filed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) before the apex court but was returned by the registrar of the court with objections.

Published in Dawn, July 6th, 2022

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