During the hearing of the plea against the changes in the accountability law, the country's top judge on Thursday observed that a crime remained unchanged whatever the punishment for it, no matter what debate was presented in the court to change its nature.
A three-judge special bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Shah, resumed the hearing of a petition filed by PTI chairman and deposed premier Imran Khan against the current government’s changes in the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999.
Continuing to present his arguments, the federal government’s lawyer Makhdoom Ali Khan contended that parliament did not have to prove its powers to legislate.
On the issue of the annulment of the amended National Accountability Bureau (NAB) law, he added that the court would have to present its reasons for why amendments to it could not be introduced.
“Only that law can be annulled that is prohibited by the Constitution,” he argued.
Justice Shah inquired whether or not ending capital punishment would be in accordance with the Constitution.
The judge further asked if parliament decided to wrap up NAB, would not that move be challenged in court.
The lawyer replied that parliament had the authority not just to legislate, but to withdraw a law as well.
Justice Shah inquired whether or not the court could restore NAB on the premise that the process of accountability had ended.
The CJP asked the lawyer if the fundamental rights of the citizens would be affected if the penal system of the country was wrapped up.
He added that NAB created cases of public property, which was owned by the people.
The government’s lawyer told the bench that Britain had abolished the capital punishment.
He added that the law to abolish the death penalty also applied to pending cases.
He pointed out that Britain did not sign an agreement to hand over suspects with countries where the death penalty was still in practice.
To this, Justice Ahsan noted that the capital punishment was part of the Shariah law.
He asked the lawyer if the laws could be altered against the Shariah principles.
The lawyer replied that under Islamic principles, there were also the concepts of Qisas (equal punishment for the crime committed) or Diyat (compensation payable to the victims or their legal heirs) present.
Justice Ahsan observed that according to the petitioner, accountability was a fundamental part of Islam and the Constitution.
Justice Shah noted that the court could only review laws in the context of the Constitution and fundamental rights.
He inquired whether or not the court could review the laws in the context of the Shariah principles if no other option was in sight.
The government’s lawyer replied that only the Federal Shariat Court had the authority to do that.
He argued that the NAB law amendments could not be reviewed under Islamic principles.
He added that the principles of Ijma (consensus) and Ijtihad (critical thinking) were being applied by parliament.
The chief justice observed that the principles of trust and betrayal were clear in the Holy Quran.
He added that in the Holy Quran, harsh words had been used for those who breached trust.
He noted that a crime remained unchanged and there was punishment, no matter what debate was used to change its nature.
Makhdoom Ali Khan said all accountability laws had always been applied from the past.
“It is not surprising that NAB amendments have been applied from the past as well,” he added.
Later, further hearing of the case was adjourned till February 7.