The Supreme Court has invalidated the amendments made to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) in 2021, and it has accepted Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan’s petition challenging these amendments.
The decision was announced by a three-judge bench, led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Bandial, alongside Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah. This ruling entails the revival of corruption cases against public officeholders that had been closed due to the amendments. Among these cases are the Toshakhana reference involving Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari, and Yousuf Raza Gilani, the LNG reference against Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and the rental power reference against Raja Pervez Ashraf.
However, it’s worth noting that CJP Bandial and Justice Ahsan found Imran Khan’s petition to be admissible, while Justice Shah dissented from the majority verdict. The Supreme Court has also declared the verdicts issued by the accountability courts based on the amended laws null and void. They have instructed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to send the relevant records back to the respective courts within seven days.
In May of the previous year, the National Assembly passed bills that repealed electoral reforms introduced by PTI, granting overseas Pakistanis voting rights. These bills also included amendments to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) laws. Imran Khan filed his petition in June 2022, challenging the changes made to various NAO provisions. These changes were alleged to favor influential individuals facing corruption charges and to legitimize corruption cases pending before Accountability Courts.
The NAB (Second Amendment) Bill 2021 outlined several key modifications. It designated the deputy chairman of NAB, appointed by the federal government, as the acting chairman after the chairman’s term ended. The bill also shortened the terms of the NAB chairman and prosecutor general from four to three years. Furthermore, regulatory bodies operating within the country were excluded from NAB’s jurisdiction. The bill also limited NAB’s jurisdiction to cases involving amounts exceeding Rs500 million.