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Corruption affected right to life, says CJ

SC terms good governance essential for the provision of rights.

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial observed on Wednesday that good governance was essential for the provision of fundamental rights of the people.

Hearing a petition against the recent amendments to the (NAO), Chief Justice Bandial emphasised that if good governance prevailed, nobody would carry weapons for their own security.

A three-member bench, led by the Chief Justice, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, took up the petition filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan.

During the hearing, Makhdoom Ali Khan, the lawyer for the federal government continued his arguments. He pleaded to the court to first see whether or not the fundamental rights were violated by the amendments to the accountability law.

The lawyer argued that invoking the Article 184(3) required determination of direct violation of fundamental rights. However, Justice Ahsan told the lawyer that the Supreme Court had wider powers to look into any matter.

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Justice Shah asked whether the petitioner should have moved the high court before the use of Article 184-3. He pointed out that the case was being heard for a long time but so far, it had not been stated which fundamental right has been affected by the amendments.

If the court was not satisfied on fundamental rights, the question of public interest would come much later, Justice Shah told the lawyer. Makhdoom Ali Khan replied that the government could not enact any laws which were against the fundamental rights.

On that Justice Shah asked what if the parliament abolished the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), can the petitioner come to the court for its restoration. Makhdoom replied that if parliament abolished NAB, it could not be challenged in the courts.

Parliament would be rendered ineffective if the court invalidated or restored any legislation, the lawyer said, adding that if the NAB law amendment was contrary to the Islamic principles, then it had to be determined by the Federal Sharia Court (FSC).

On that, Justice Ahsan asked what would happen if the FSC declared the amendments null and void. In reply, Makhdoom Ali Khan said that the court could send the law back to parliament but it could not invalidate it.

The chief justice observed that corruption was related to the enforcement of law, transparent government and social system. He emphasised that good governance was essential for the provision of fundamental rights.

The chief justice remarked that good governance meant that the laws of the country should be clear to everyone, adding that if the government was good no one would be afraid to go out in the night or no one would have to carry weapons for protection.

The chief justice stressed the need for respecting the people’s right to life. However, he added, in ancient times, the right to life would have been fulfilled by just bread, cloth and shelter but in present times, facilities such as education and health were necessary.

Chief Justice Bandial further said that the right to life has been affected by corruption. He then referred to the recovery of two kidnapped girls, saying that they were recovered after six years because there was no system.

The police had to resort to intelligence agencies to recover the girls, the chief justice said, adding that the lack of capacity of the police was actually a violation of the citizens’ right to life.

Chief Justice Bandial stressed that the court had clearly stated that the judiciary did not want to govern nor would it do so. However, he pointed out that hundreds of NAB cases were being returned by the courts after the amendments to the accountability law.

NAB amendments shut the door on pending cases, he remarked. It had been eight months since the NAB amendments were enacted, but the procedure for the transfer of the cases could not be chalked out.

Justice Ahsan said if the government had time to change the words in the law, why it could not formulate the procedure for the transfer of cases. The chief justice asked what if the accountability court cases were excluded from the ambit of anti-corruption.

Lawyer Makhdoom Ali Khan replied that even before the NAB law, corruption cases were dealt with in the country for the past 50 years. Later, further hearing of the case was adjourned till Thursday (today).



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