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Photo Source: Dawn

Pakistan Reader# 467, 13 December 2022

Supreme Court seeks Imran Khan’s opinion on barring armed forces from National Accountability Ordinance



What did the SC say?

Bhoomika Sesharaj

On 12 December, the Supreme Court (SC) appealed for Imran Khan’s opinion on the exclusion of the armed forces from the National Accountability Ordinance’s (NAO) purview and challenged Imran Khan’s claims of amendments to the NAO. A three-judge bench led by the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial questioned Imran Khan’s lawyer, Khwaja Harris Ahmed whether Imran Khan considered the amendment “discriminatory” and if the exemption of the armed forces was justified, considering that the SC judges also came under the NAO’s purview.  The judges questioned the credibility of the counsel’s claims and said that it would be “against the concept” of parliamentary democracy if the members decide to quit the parliament and wondered if the SC’s decision on the matter would prove to be fruitful without hearing the Islamabad High Court’s decision.

What did Imran Khan’s counsel say?

The council, along with Imran Khan’s opinion on the matter is meant to “satisfy” the bench if an elected parliament member had the prerogative to take up issues perturbing their rights and should lead their concerns “to the streets” or raise their voices in the parliament. Responding to the bench, Imran Khan’s counsel said that it was the SC’s decision to determine if the matter falls within the framework of public importance and said that the “vires” of the amendment could be examined by other high courts if they were “bulldozed.” Ahmed said that the SC intervened in the matter of the 2020 army chief’s extension and that the endorsement of the extension “should not be mixed up” with the SC’s judiciary restrainments. 

The council also pushed the court to “strike down” the changes to NAO and said that certain provisions of the amendments had been “taken away” without cohesive reasons and said that it was “impossible” to convict an offender in the country. The CJP resounded that the law was a “stumbling block” that was “impeding” Pakistan’s progress and that the amendments had reversed the previous practice of detaining offenders unnecessarily. (Nasir Iqbal, “Imran’s take on army’s ‘immunity’ sought,” Dawn, 13 November 2022)

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