Amended NAB law stiffens penalties for beneficiaries


-File photo -File photo

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Saturday said that under the directions of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the Laws Review Committee has proposed amendments in Section 15 and substitution of Section 25 of National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.

Dar, who is also chairman of Laws Review Committee, told a press conference that with the approval of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as well as the federal cabinet, the government has decided to immediately promulgate the National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, to give an immediate effect to the aforementioned amendments.

He said the Ordinance will be laid in the Senate session starting on Monday (tomorrow). Prior to the promulgation of the National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, NAO contains provisions for voluntary return and plea bargain. “The ordinance will impose a lifetime ban on public office holders and civil servants who have benefited from the NAB”s plea bargain and voluntary return laws,” Dar said.

He said the ordinance will come into force from Saturday midnight and will be implementable without any delay,” adding the ordinance also proposes that plea bargain would be subject to approval by the court. The government, Dar added, decided to immediately introduce the ordinance as the introduction of a bill in this regard could delay the matter.

“The provision for voluntary return did not entail disqualification of a holder of public office or dismissal of a government servant who enters into voluntary return arrangements. Nor did it require approval of the accountability court. The result was that a corrupt person who voluntarily returned the proceeds of corruption could continue to be a holder of public office or a government servant,” he added. He said the provision for plea bargain required

The result was that a corrupt person who voluntarily returned the proceeds of corruption could continue to be a holder of public office or a government servant,” he added. He said the provision for plea bargain required approval of the court but disqualification to hold a public office was for a period for ten years only, accordingly, the Laws Review Committee has proposed certain amendments.

The following are the salient features:

(i) The provisions of voluntary return and plea bargain have been merged.

(ii) A voluntary return arrangement will now be subject to approval of the court, and will not be at the discretion of chairman NAB.

(iii) The person entering into such arrangement shall be deemed to be convicted and; (a) shall stand disqualified from being a holder of public office; (b) and if in government service shall stand dismissed without any pecuniary benefits and shall not thereafter be eligible to hold public office.

(iv) A person convicted by the Court for corruption and corrupt practices shall cease to hold public office and shall stand disqualified from being a holder of public office in future.

Upon promulgation of the National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, the aforementioned amendments will become operative with immediate effect.

Furthermore, in accordance with unanimous motions passed by the National Assembly and Senate, the Speaker National Assembly in consultation with the Chairman Senate and leaders of the parliamentary parties has constituted a 20-member parliamentary committee comprising 13 MNAs and 07 Senators “to revisit the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 and recommend necessary amendments therein.”

The Committee is likely to commence its work in the week beginning from January 09, 2017.