Sindh govt tells SHC it is reviewing NAO repeal bill


Bench puts off hearing for four weeks and directs NAB to continue operation

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday was informed by the provincial government that it was reviewing the repealing of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999.

The SHC bench, headed by Chief Justice Ahmed Ali Sheikh, was hearing a bunch of petitions filed by several political parties including Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pasban-e-Pakistan and some other NGOs who have moved the court against Sindh government for repealing NAO, better known as NAB Ordinance, in the province.

During Monday’s hearing, the Sindh Advocate General Barrister Zameer Hussain Ghumro informed the judges that the provincial government has decided to review the NAO Sindh Repeal Bill, 2017. The Sindh Assembly is fully authorised to legislate and Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) led provincial government is taking all measures according to law, he added.

The advocate general requested the court to grant Sindh government appropriate time before passing any order. While accepting his request, the bench put off the hearing for four weeks and directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to continue its operation in the province.

In the outset hearing, the court had sought the details of former or present members of Sindh Assembly and government functionaries who are currently facing NAB proceedings. The corruption watchdog in its reply had submitted that 22 MPAs are amongst 1,566 persons who are currently being inquired, investigated or tried in the courts for their alleged malpractices.

According to NAB’s report, MPAs against whom inquiries are being carried out included former legislator and Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) Chief Mustafa Kamal, PPP’s Ziaul Hassan Lanjar who is currently serving as Sindh law minister, Gian Chand Israni who is former minister for excise and taxation, ex-minister for Zakat and Ushr Dost Muhammad, Ghulam Qadir Palejo, and three current MPAs including Nawab Taimoor Talpur, Muhammad Ali Malkani and Dr Abdul Sattar Rajper.

It was also revealed that MQM’s two politicians, Rauf Siddiqui and Muhammad Adil Siddiqui, were facing NAB proceedings as the duo had served as provincial ministers. The report said that Dr Asim Hussain and Sharjeel Inam Memon are being investigated at NAB Karachi, whereas Sharjeel Memon and Agha Tariq are also facing trials in the Accountability Court.

The SHC was further informed that 1,494 Sindh government functionaries are facing NAB proceedings. “340 persons out of 1,494 face inquiries, 372 are being investigated while 782 are being tried in the courts for their alleged corrupt practices,” NAB stated and added that 50 employees who work in Sindh government departments are also facing NAB proceedings.

Earlier, several opposition parties and NGOs moved the court after the Sindh government had decided to replace NAB with its own ‘Sindh Accountability Agency’. The petitioners said that the repeal NAO is an attempt by the PPP to protect its corruption and is against the basic scheme of the Constitution.

The provincial assembly had on July 3 passed the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 Sindh Repeal Bill, 2017, that repealed the applicability of the NAB Ordinance to departments and autonomous bodies controlled by the provincial government. It had also approved the establishment of a provincial accountability agency.