ISLAMABAD: A joint session of the parliament on Monday passed the National Accoun­tability (Amendment) Bill, 2023, with Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar asserting that no individual or a court can restrain parliament from legislation.

Mr Tarar moved the bill that had separately been passed by the National Assembly and the Senate last month, but returned by President Dr Arif Alvi.

Some amendments, moved by Senator Mushtaq Ahmad, including the one seeking to omit the part for retrospective applicability of the law, were rejected by the House.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Tarar said that putting politicians behind bars will not end corruption. He took a swipe at the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), saying, “for the past four years, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had been used against political opponents”.

He said the Supreme Court also observed that NAB had been used for political engineering in the past, adding that the courts had declared NAB a black law.

He said that NAB amendments were meant to improve the law and ensure a fair trial, but regretted that the president had returned the bill to the parliament. The minister said that the power and authority of the parliament was absolute and it could not be taken away by anyone.

He said the president was also part of the parliament but he did not know that the authority of the parliament was absolute and it could not be stopped from legislation on sub-judice issues.

He claimed that the new law guaranteed a fair trial as per the Constitution and it would check political engineering.

He said the bill sought to remove the legal complication in the transfer of cases from the accountability court to relevant forums which do not fall within the jurisdiction of the NAB Ordinance.

The law minister said the laws made during a military dictator’s rule were used for political engineering.

The minister mentioned that despite Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) claim that the bill was an “NRO-II”, time would show the party that it was really an “NRO-II” for the PTI.

“The NAB, under former chairman Javed Iqbal, was used for political engineering,” Mr Tarar said. Referring to the Supreme Court’s hearing on the NAB bill, the law minister said that no institution had the right to interfere in the parliament’s matters.

“We have not interfered with any other institution’s jurisdiction so far [and we expect the same from the judiciary],” the minister said.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2023

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