ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered placing before a regular bench PTI chairman Imran Khan’s petition challenging recent amendments to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO).

In a chamber hearing of an appeal against July 1 registrar office’s decision to return the petition, Justice Ijazul Ahsan set aside the objections and ordered fixing the case before a bench of the top judiciary for hearing on merit. Senior counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed pleaded the appeal before the judge in chamber.

The petition had sought to strike down the amendments made through the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Act 2022 for being ultra vires to the Constitution.

The registrar office had in its objection stated that the petitioner had not pointed out what questions of public importance in the present case had been involved with reference to enforcement of any of the fundamental rights since the inherit right of the apex court had been invoked directly by the petitioner through Article 184(3) of the Constitution.

Registrar’s office returns another petition by ex-PM against changes in Elections Act

Moreover, it said, the ingredients required for invoking extraordinary jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Article 184(3) of the Constitution had not been highlighted. Moreover, the petitioner has not approached other appropriate forums available under the law for the relief being sought and has also not provided any justification for not doing so.

In his petition, Imran Khan had claimed that the amendments to the NAB law had been made to benefit the influential accused persons and legitimise corruption.

The coalition government led by the PML-N had introduced 27 key amendments to NAO, but President Dr Arif Alvi did not accord his assent to these. However, the bill was adopted in a joint sitting of parliament and notified later.

The petition pleaded that the fresh amendments tend to scrap corruption cases against the president, prime minister, chief ministers and ministers and provide an opportunity to the convicted public office-holders to get their conviction undone.

“The amendments to the NAO is tantamount to depriving the citizens of Pakistan of having access to law to effectively question their chosen representatives in case of breach of their duty towards the people of Pakistan,” the petition argued.

Moreover, the word “benamidar” has been re-defined, making it difficult for the prosecution to prove someone as fictitious owner of a property, the petition argued.

In a related development, the SC registrar office on Wednesday also returned another petition filed by Imran Khan on July 4, challenging the recent amendments to the Elections Act 2017 and seeking a directive for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to provide voting right to overseas Pakistanis in the general elections.

While returning the petition, the registrar office stated that the petitioner himself had admitted that the matter was sub judice before lower forums.

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2022

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