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Govt decides to review NAB Ordinance after growing criticism on plea bargain law

Federal Law Minister Zahid Hamid, while speaking before a Senate’s standing committee on Monday, said the government is in the process to form a committee comprising parliamentarians tasked with reviewing the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Ordinance, keeping in view the growing criticism regarding plea bargain and voluntary return.

The law minister said this during the meeting of Senate’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice, after the committee members, following intense deliberations, recommended that the NAB Ordinance of 1999 should be reviewed.

The Senate body meeting was chaired by Senator Javed Abbasi.

The committee members had a detailed discussion on Section 25 of the NAB law that deals with voluntary return and plea bargain.

NAB Deputy Chairman Imtiaz Tajwar, DG Operations Zahir Shah and other officials defended NAB’s powers particularly the provision of voluntary return and plea bargain.

PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar said there was a strong perception that NAB was promoting corruption rather eradicating the menace. He questioned the powers of NAB chairman to accept voluntary return and plea bargain and said “he NAB chief accepted the plea bargain from Balochistan’s former finance secretary to ‘protect’ big guns”.

The NAB deputy chairman, however, defended the move. Reiterating the support, he apprised the committee that the bureau has recovered Rs37.1 billion in plea bargain and voluntary return since 2010.

Minister for Law Zahid Hamid said a parliamentary committee would soon be constituted to review the NAB law as a whole and that members of the National Assembly as well as the Senate will be part of the committee.

Hamid further said the Senate chairman has already filed nominations to the National Assembly speaker in this regard.

“The government has also forwarded names from treasury benches to the speaker… instead of five names, Opposition Leader Khursheed Shah has forwarded six names so we have been requesting him to drop one name,” he added.

In addition, Hamid said that the federal government strongly feels there was a need to review NAB ordinance and that the parliamentary committee will work on it.

Hamid and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Aitzaz Ahsan had a heated exchange of words when the PPP leader inquired why NAB did not “interrogate” Maryam Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz, children of the prime minister accused of corruption in Panama leaks.

In his response, the federal law minister expressed frustration, accusing the PPP senator of raising “unnecessary” questions to manipulate the media.

The standing committee also had to review the Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Bill, 2016. However, Ahsan protested, saying the bill was put on the meeting’s agenda on a one-day notice. Therefore, the discussion on the agenda item was deferred.

Courtesy : Dawn News



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