KARACHI: Sindh High Court Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M. Sheikh has ordered re-designation / conversion of 10 accountability courts (AC) into six banking, one customs/anti-smuggling and anti-narcotic courts each.
Of the 10 accountability courts, five are currently operating in Karachi, two in Hyderabad and three in Sukkur.
According to a notification issued by the SHC registrar, Karachi’s Accountability Court (AC)-VI, AC-VII, AC-VIII and AC-IX will be converted into Banking Court-VI, Banking Court-VII, Special Court-II (Customs, Taxation and Anti-Smuggling) and Special Court-III (Control of Narcotic Substance).
The fifth accountability court in Karachi (AC-X) will be converted into recently established the Gas Utility Court for Karachi division.
Two courts in Hyderabad —AC-II and AC-III — will be re-designated as Banking Court-Dadu and Banking Court-Mirpurkhas.
SHC chief justice re-designates 10 accountability courts in Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur
Sukkur’s AC-II, AC-III and AC-IV will be re-designated as Banking Court-Ghotki, Banking Court-Shaheed Benazirabad and the Special Court (Central) Sukkur.
Speedy disposal of graft cases
Sources told Dawn that several corruption cases filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against high-profile politicians, former ministers, bureaucrats, businessmen, etc, had been transferred by the accountability courts to other courts due to lack of jurisdiction following some amendments to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999.
They said that most of the NAB cases had been transferred to the provincial anti-corruption or banking courts, which were already facing an increased backlog of cases.
They said that the chief justice’s decision to re-designate accountability courts would help speedy disposal of the graft cases which had been excluded from the domain of the NAB courts.
In 2021, the then Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led federal government had set up new accountability courts in the province, including six in Karachi, to expedite speedy disposal of NAB references against opposition politicians and others as part of its aggressive accountability drive.
However, when the Pakistan Democratic Movement-led coalition government took to power, it amended the accountability law after which many graft cases fell within the jurisdiction of either banking or customs courts from NAB courts.
Published in Dawn, August 30th, 2023