The National Assembly Wednesday passed the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Bill 2022 after suspending the scheduled Question-Hour. The bill seeks to exclude private transactions from the scope of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Minister of State for Law and Justice Shahadat Awan moved the bill in the House. The bill on becoming an Act of the Parliament shall come into force at once and shall be deemed to have taken effect on and from commencement of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 (XVIII of 1999). It amends the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.
The bill was passed during a thin presence in the House. None of opposition members, including Dr. Fehmida Mirza and others, pointed out a lack of quorum but they protested the absence of ministers concerned from the House.
Under the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Bill, 2022, the pecuniary jurisdiction of the NAB has been fixed to only take action against the mega scandals. Further, it has been proposed that supplementary references can only be filed with the permission of the court to expedite the proceedings of the court within one year.
As per the bill, the investigation officers shall not harass any person during investigation or inquiry and they will confine their questions relevant to the investigation or inquiry or for extracting evidence. The bill says the accused must be informed whether he or she has been summoned in the capacity of accused or witness and information be given to him to enable him to give evidence.
The Section 25 is related to the protection of interest of the government that in case persons entering into a plea bargain fail to make payment, pursuant to the payment approved by the court, the plea bargain agreement will become infructuous.
The provisions of this ordinance shall not be applicable to the following persons or transactions, namely all matters pertaining to federal, provincial or local taxation, other levies or imposts, including refunds, or loss of exchequer pertaining to taxation, decisions of federal or provincial cabinet, their committees or sub-committees, Council of Common Interests (CCI), National Economic Council (NEC), National Finance Commission (NFC), Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC), Central Development Working Party (CDWP), Provincial Development Working Party (PDWP), Departmental Development Working Party (DDWP), the State Bank of Pakistan and such other bodies except where the holder of the public office has received a monetary gain as a result of such decision.
The NAB chairman shall hold the office for a non-extendable term of three years and shall not be eligible for subsequent appointment as chairman and shall not be removed from the office except on the grounds and in the manner as provided in Article 209 of the Constitution. Upon the expiry of the term of chairman and till the appointment of a new chairman, the deputy chairman shall act as chairman. In the absence of the deputy chairman, the federal government shall appoint an acting chairman from amongst the senior officers of the NAB. The House also passed the Publication of Laws of Pakistan Amendment Bill, 2022.