ISLAMABAD: President Arif Alvi on Sunday sent back the National Accountability (Amendment) Bill 2023 to the Parliament for reconsideration after observing that the amendments brought earlier in the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 were sub-judice before the Supreme Court (SC).
The president sent back the piece of legislation in terms of clause (1) (b) of Article 75 of the Constitution, the President Secretariat Press Wing said in a press release.
It added that Alvi maintained that this aspect of the legislation was neither referred to in the bill nor in the prime minister’s advice.
He observed that without considering the implications of a pending matter, further amendments in the NAO 1999 should be reconsidered.
The prime minister had sent his advice seeking assent of the president over the said bill.
Earlier this month, the Senate had passed the bill amid noisy protests from the opposition benches. The bill seeking changes in 17 sections of the original law was tabled by Law and Justice Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar.
Under the proposed amendments, the NAB chairperson will have the authority to close the inquiries started under any other law. The anti-graft body chief shall be authorised to refer all such inquiries to the related agency, institution or authority.
If the NAB is not satisfied with the inquiry, its chief will be authorised to send the case to the court concerned for approval for the release of the suspect.
On receiving the inquiry from the NAB chief, the concerned agency, authority or department will be authorised to further investigate the matter under clauses A and B.
Under the proposed amendments, if the court is not satisfied, any case can be referred back to the relevant institutions, agencies or authorities with the help of NAB.
On the return of a case from the court, the Bureau will be able to prosecute it under its own rules through the concerned department or authority.
Cases decided before the National Accountability Amendment Acts 2022 and 2023 will remain in force. These decisions will remain in effect until they are withdrawn.
Any court forum or agency shall be competent under its respective laws to record or re-record old or new witnesses for further proceedings in a case referred to it.
Under Section 5 of the NAB Act, further proceedings in all pending inquiries, investigations and trials can only be conducted under the rules of the concerned institutions.
In case of the absence of the NAB chief or inability to perform their duties because of any reason, their deputy will be authorised to take over their responsibilities.
In case the deputy chairperson is unavailable, the federal government will be authorised to appoint the acting NAB chief from among the senior officers of the anti-graft body.
Source : Tribune