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New Ordinances Enlist Retired Judges for Election Tribunals, Signed by Acting President

Acting President Yusuf Raza Gilani took action on Monday by signing two new ordinances, namely the Election Act (Amendment) Ordinance 2024 and the NAB (Amendment) Ordinance 2024.

Under the Election Act (Amendment) Ordinance 2024, election tribunals will now include retired judges alongside serving jurists. This move aims to enhance the effectiveness and impartiality of these tribunals.

Simultaneously, the NAB (Amendment) Ordinance extends the period of remand for accused individuals in National Accountability Bureau (NAB) cases from 14 days to 40 days. Additionally, the duration of imprisonment for officers convicted of fabricating cases out of malice has been reduced from five years to two years.

These amendments were approved by the federal cabinet before being promulgated by the acting president. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif advised the president in the absence of President Asif Zardari, who is currently in Dubai.

These developments coincide with the impending Supreme Court hearing on the NAB amendments case scheduled for May 30. In September 2023, a three-member bench of the Supreme Court, led by then-chief justice Umar Ata Bandial, with Justice Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, approved a petition filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan challenging amendments made to the country’s accountability laws during the previous Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)-led government.

After more than 50 hearings, the court, by a majority 2-1 verdict, reinstated graft cases against public office holders that were closed following the amendments. The court’s decision ordered the reopening of all graft cases worth less than Rs500 million against political leaders from various parties and public office holders, declaring the amendments null and void.

The federal government subsequently filed an appeal under Section 5 of the Supreme Court law against the apex court’s decision, reflecting the significant implications of the verdict, as it would revive references against several prominent political figures in the country’s accountability courts.

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