The three-judge bench, led by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and consisting of Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, pronounced this decision following a petition filed by former Prime Minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, among others. The ruling, delivered by a majority of the three-member bench, represents a significant development in the country’s ongoing battle against corruption.
The court determined that the petition against the NAB law amendments was maintainable for hearing, citing Articles 9, 14, 24, and 25 of the Constitution. Several clauses in these amendments were found to be in violation of the Constitution, prompting the court’s decision. The Supreme Court ruling has several significant implications:
- The court ordered the restoration of approximately 2,027 cases that were affected by the amendments. These cases include those against prominent politicians and public officeholders.
- The court invalidated amendments that prevented NAB from filing references against officials appointed to constitutional roles. This ensures that no one, regardless of their position, is immune from accountability.
- Cases with values less than Rs500 million were previously exempted from NAB scrutiny. The court declared this amendment illegal, expanding the scope of investigations.
- The court ruled that the orders given by accountability courts based on the NAB law amendments were illegal. As a result, NAB is now tasked with resuming investigations and inquiries and sending the case records back to the relevant accountability courts.
This landmark decision has far-reaching consequences, affecting numerous politicians and public figures. Among the cases that will be reopened are those against:
- Former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in the sugar mills case.
- Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the Toshakhana case.
- Former Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal in the Narowal City case.
- Maryam Nawaz, Asif Ali Zardari, and Yousaf Raza Gilani in the Toshakhana case.
- Asif Ali Zardari in the Pink Residence reference.
- Former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in the LNG case.
- Shaukat Tareen in a reference.
- Raja Pervez Ashraf, Abdul Aziz Majeed, and Anwar Majeed of the Omni Group.
- Maulana Fazlur Rehman.
- Caretaker Prime Minister Anwarul Haq Kakar.
- Faryal Talpur.
- Former federal ministers Ishaq Dar, Khawaja Saad Rafique, and Rana Sanaullah.
- And many others.
The court ruled that the amendment related to individuals amassing assets beyond their known sources of income would remain applicable. This ensures that those who hold or held public office and have acquired assets beyond their means can still be held accountable.
The amendment to the plea bargain clause was also declared illegal, reinforcing the court’s commitment to upholding the rule of law. The court voided clauses related to ‘benami’ properties and accounts, signaling a firm stance against clandestine assets.
This landmark decision represents a significant step in Pakistan’s ongoing fight against corruption and underscores the principle that accountability should be applied consistently, regardless of one’s position or status.