Alvi sends NAB, electoral reforms bills back for review

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President Arif Alvi on Saturday returned the bills concerning NAB amendments and electoral reforms to the prime minister for further “consideration and deliberation”.

The two bills were earlier passed by both the lower and upper houses of the parliament.

The Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Bill 2021 seek to reverse the changes made in the election laws by the previous PTI government on the use of electronic voting machines and i-voting for overseas Pakistanis and curbing the powers of the National Accountability Bureau respectively.

President Alvi returned the bills citing a violation of Article 46 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and said the prime minister “shall keep the president informed on all matters of internal and external policy and on all legislative proposals the federal government intends to bring before the parliament”. The Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2022 aims to conduct pilot projects in local by-elections before using i-voting and EVMs in the next general elections.

The NAB law amendment bill included that the deputy chairman of the anti-graft body would become acting chairman following the top official’s retirement.

The process to appoint a new chairman would begin two months prior to the incumbent’s retirement and be completed in 40 days. Federal and provincial tax matters, as well as regulatory bodies’ decisions, were removed from NAB’s purview. Judges would be appointed in accountability courts for a three-year period and cases would be decided within a year. NAB would be bound to ensure the availability of evidence prior to arrest. The amendments also included up to five-year imprisonment for filing a false reference.

It pertinent to mention that the President’s approval is required for the implementation of both laws. However, after the President’s decision, the government will present the two bills in a joint sitting of Parliament. The federal government will introduce bills under Article 75 of the Constitution.

It may be recalled that the Parliament had recently abolished electronic voting machine and overseas voting under the Election Amendment Bill 2022 while reducing the powers of NAB through the NAB Amendment Bill.

The Article 46 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan provides that “the Prime Minister shall keep the President informed on all legislative proposals the Federal Government intends to bring before Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)” President’s Secretariat Media Wing said in a press release on Saturday.

President Alvi said the legislation having far-reaching impact on the society should have been discussed in detail in consultation with the legal fraternity and civil society. While dilating on the proposed amendments, the president said that by this amendment the burden of proof has been shifted to the persecution which has made NAB Law similar to (CrPC) 1898. This, he said, would make it impossible for the prosecution to prove cases of corruption and misuse of official authority by the state persons and would bury the process of accountability in Pakistan. He emphasized the amendment would make the tracing money trail for the acquisition of illegal assets.

 

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