SC expresses reservations over NAB Ordinance records


ISLAMABAD: Reservations were expressed over the date on which the summary advising the President to promulgate the National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance 2010 was issued from the Prime Minister office to the Presidency by the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
“It appears that the letter written by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to the President Asif Ali Zardari to approve and sign the National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance, 2010 was tampered with,” the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry observed while hearing identical petitions challenging the NAB (Amendment) Ordinance.
Attorney General Moulvi Anwarul Haq prayed that the court dismiss the petitions as not a single reason was given for the Amendment Ordinance being illegal or unconstitutional. He stated the Ordinance was published in the gazette on September 16 and was promulgated with the advice of the Prime Minister, who was sent the summary on September 6.
Approval was received from the Prime Minister’s office on September 7 and it was signed by the President on September 8, he said. He said subsection (AA) was inserted in Section 16 A of the Ordinance XVIII of 1999 to enable the federal government to transfer cases and proceedings to newly established courts.
Section 3 of the National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance, 2010, the scope of the Section 31E of the NAB Ordinance 1999 had also been enlarged and a provision had been made for safety, security and protection of judges, public prosecutors, counsel and their families as well, he said.
“Vide Section 4 of the said Ordinance 2010 and Section 33A of the NAB Ordinance 1999 has been omitted,” he said. This provision is related to the payment of bonuses and ex-gratia payments to the officer and the staff of the National Accountability and others for helping with investigations.
Earlier, the AG was directed by the SC to submit comprehensive written answers on constitutional justification for issuing NAB amendment Ordinance and a record of consultations with the Prime Minister and the stages in NAB Ordinance’s issuance.
Syed Zafar Ali Shah of Pakistan Muslim Leauge-Nawaz group and Shahid Orakzai, a freelance journalist, had challenged the NAB Amended Ordinance before the Supreme Court contending that Prime Minister was not consulted while issuance the ordinance, which was a violation of Article 48 of the Constitution.
They had contended that the NAB law amendment was aimed to take away the powers of the NAB chairman. They questioned as to whether the president could promulgate an ordinance under Article 89 without advice of the Cabinet or the Prime Minister.
Earlier, the ordinance issued by President Asif Ali Zardari on September 16, was also discussed in both houses of parliament on October 4, embarrassing Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in the National Assembly, forcing an opposition walkout from the Senate and a split within the Pakistan People’s Party.