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NAB amendment case: Supreme Court grants permission for Imran Khan to participate via video-link on May 16

The Supreme Court of Pakistan directed the federal and Punjab governments to arrange a video-link facility for imprisoned Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf founder Imran Khan to present his arguments in the National Accountability Bureau amendment case.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa made this statement during the hearing of the federal government’s intra-court appeal against the apex court’s 2023 verdict, which nullified certain NAB amendments.

Imran Khan expressed his desire to present his arguments in the case. The larger bench of the Supreme Court, comprising five members including CJP Isa, is overseeing the proceedings. The case stems from a September 2023 decision by a three-member bench of the Supreme Court, which reinstated corruption cases against politicians and public office holders by overturning NAB amendments.

This decision has significant implications for several prominent figures, including Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari, Yousuf Raza Gilani, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and Raja Pervez Ashraf. The federal government appealed this decision, leading to the ongoing hearings. The case’s last hearing was on October 31, with today’s session marking the first since then.

Today’s hearing

During the hearing, the Chief Justice of Pakistan emphasized focusing solely on legal aspects regarding the validity of NAB amendments. The Attorney General, representing the federal government, supported the amendments, while the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa advocate general backed the Supreme Court’s stance against them.

Justice Minallah questioned the federal government’s standing in the case, citing that only affected parties can appeal. Justices emphasized the need for transparency in issuing ordinances and for NAB to justify its actions.

They also directed the Attorney General to ensure the functionality of the video link for future hearings.

The court adjourned the case until May 16. The challenged NAB amendments reduced the terms of NAB officials, excluded regulatory bodies from NAB’s jurisdiction, and imposed time limits on accountability court cases.

Imran Khan petitioned against these amendments, arguing their unconstitutionality and violation of fundamental rights. The case commenced in July 2022, with Khan’s plea supported by a special three-member bench.

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