The government and the opposition agreed over amendments in the existing National Accountability Bureau (NAB) law, a news outlet reported on Thursday.
Reportedly, a draft prepared by the Ministry of Law suggests restrictions on the blanket powers of the NAB chief. The draft also proposes withdrawal of the plea bargain powers from the NAB and it will be deemed in future as part of the acceptance of offence. The new accountability law also curtails the existing 90 days’ period of NAB remand to 14 days.
Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) in a hearing had set the date for the amendment in the ‘plea bargain’ clause of the accountability law. In a suo motu hearing Justice Azmat Saeed had said that the “plea bargain law of NAB” should be amended till February 2019 otherwise the court will set aside the law. The apex court also asked the parliament to amend the accountability law allowing a voluntary return of plundered money by February next year otherwise the court would pass an appropriate order on the matter. The bench observed that it was tantamount to a confession of offence if an accused person voluntary returned part of ill-gotten money and that it would not undo the crime.
Farooq H Naek, an amicus curiae in the case, informed the court that a parliamentary committee was working to overhaul the National Accountability Ordinance and suggested that instead of the court, parliament might be allowed to make an amendment to the law. Justice Saeed said that the court could strike down the voluntary return law since it was an admission of committing of an offence, adding that there was no room in the law to waive criminal liability through an executive order. The bench said that in case there was no amendment to repeal the voluntary return by the first week of February 2019, the court might pass an order.
It is worth mentioning here that the voluntary return is an option in the accountability law under which the accused returns plundered money during the investigation before the filing of a corruption reference in an accountability court.