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SC Resumes Hearing NAB Laws Case as Imran Khan May Not Appear Via Video Link

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SC Resumes Hearing NAB Laws Case as Imran Khan May Not Appear Via Video Link

(CTN News) – The Supreme Court has resumed hearing a lawsuit involving revisions to accountability rules, with former Prime Minister Imran Khan appearing via video link as the petitioner.

The anticipated development comes after the Supreme Court, which heard the case about the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) legislation on Tuesday, directed the federal and Punjab governments to enable Imran khan’s attendance on Thursday via video link from Adiala jail.

Justice Athar Minallah, a member of the five-member bench considering the issue, stated that the top court could not deny the ex-premier an audience if he wanted to appear before it on the matter.

Today, the bench, led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa and including Justices Aminuddin Khan, Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Athar Minallah, and Hasan Azhar Rizvi, continued hearing the case.

According to a Dawn correspondent, Imran Khan appeared via video call wearing a blue shalwar kameez.

The prior hearing was shown live, but today’s is not.

Imran Khan is in jail in many instances, and this is his first public appearance since his arrest from Zaman Park in August last year in the Toshakhana case, despite Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar’s worries over the Supreme Court’s directions.

Supporters of Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan, carry placards displaying a portrait of Khan during a protest in Karachi on March 19, 2023, demanding release of arrested party workers in recent police clashes. (Photo by Rizwan TABASSUM / AFP) (Photo by RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP via Getty Images)

A division bench of the Islamabad High Court gave the former premier bail in the £190 million case on “reasonable ground” a day earlier, while an Islamabad session court acquitted him in a 2022 case related to the Azadi March.

The PTI, on the other hand, has expressed concern about a visitors’ ban in the Adiala jail, claiming that the decision was done to keep the party chairman away from the Supreme Court proceedings.

At a press conference, PTI spokesperson Raoof Hasan claimed that Imran’s security guards were abruptly replaced at midnight over the last two days, hearings in the Al-Qadir Trust, Cipher, and Toshakhana cases had been postponed for various reasons, and the government’s counsel in the Iddat case had abruptly left the country.

In 2022, the Pakistan Democratic Movement-led government amended the country’s accountability legislation.

The amendments to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 reduced the term of the NAB chairman and prosecutor general to three years, limited NAB’s jurisdiction to cases involving over Rs500 million, and transferred all pending inquiries, investigations, and trials to relevant authorities.

Imran Khan challenged the NAB revisions, arguing they benefited powerful individuals and legitimized corruption.

The petition argued that the new amendments tend to dismiss corruption proceedings against the president, prime minister, chief ministers, and ministers and create an option for convicted public office holders to overturn their convictions.

In September last year, after 53 hearings, the SC issued a 2-1 ruling, restoring corruption cases against abandoned public office holders owing to modifications and declaring Imran’s plea to be maintainable.

The following month, a five-judge SC bench heard intra-court appeals (ICAs) against its September 15 judgment, preventing accountability courts from issuing final verdicts on graft cases.

In a subsequent hearing, CJP Isa suggested that the procedures may be restarted if the council could “make a solid case” for it, as the previous proceedings did not meet the standards of the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023.

It subsequently started hearing the ICAs on Tuesday, ordering officials to ensure Imran Khan’s appearance before the Supreme Court via video link because he was a petitioner.

The Supreme Court was confronted with some ICAs filed by the federal government and a private man, Zuhair Ahmed Siddiqui, who was accused in a corruption case but was not a party to the NAB constitutional challenge.

Arsi Mughal is a staff writer at CTN News, delivering insightful and engaging content on a wide range of topics. With a knack for clear and concise writing, he crafts articles that resonate with readers. Arsi's pieces are well-researched, informative, and presented in a straightforward manner, making complex subjects accessible to a broad audience. His writing style strikes the perfect balance between professionalism and casual approachability, ensuring an enjoyable reading experience.