ISLAMABAD: Voices against the controversial plea bargain and voluntary return provisions in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) laws echoed in the parliament again on Tuesday when members of a Senate body called for amendments.
“Voluntary returns and plea bargains are exploited and should be amended,” said Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committing on Law and Justice held at the Parliament House with Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi in the chair.
The committee also reviewed the National Accountability (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (Ordinance No. II of 2017).
Senator Farooq Naek observed that the bill contradicted the provisions of the Constitution. He highlighted ambiguities in some clauses of the bill.
Representatives of the bureau also attended the meeting.
Interestingly, the joint opposition, backed by some treasury members in the Senate on Jan 19, disapproved the recently promulgated NAB ordinance, envisaging disqualification of the corrupt public office holders and public servants, availing themselves of plea bargain to escape punishment.
The Pakistan Peoples Party’s parliamentary leader, Senator Taj Haider, said that there was no need to promulgate an ordinance in haste as the Senate session had already been summoned but the government preferred an ordinance over legislation.
Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani said there was a need for “one roof and one law through which all the corrupt whether in the judiciary, military, civil or any other department could be made accountable”.
The committee also discussed the Pakistan Commission of Inquiry Bill, 2016, in detail.
Minister of Law and Justice Zahid Hamid briefed the committee of the salient features of the bill and said it would replace the Pakistan Commission of Inquiry Act, 1956, which was a weak act.
Senator Ayesha Farooq and Senator Nehal Hashmi were of the view that the bill was required to counter corruption and that it was different from the Panama Inquiry Bill, as the Panama Bill was specific to a single case.
The chairman observed that it was an important bill and must be scrutinised thoroughly.
The committee agreed with the chair that all the suggestions of the members should be incorporated and a draft would be presented within 10 days.