National Accountability Bureau (Amendment) Ordinance 2019 signed recently by the President of Pakistan is a controversial piece of legislation promulgated under the advice of the Federal Government. The primary objective of the Ordinance is to retrieve ill-earned wealth in a short while. The first provision amended relates to the pecuniary jurisdiction of National Accountability Bureau (NAB). As per the amended section 5 (n), the NAB would not seek into a case where the amount is less than Rs. 50 crores. The second amendment is section 9 (a) (v) of the NAB ordinance is about the burden of proof. To prove that the offence is of ‘assets beyond means’, then the prosecution have to prove that the assets held by the accused are the proceeds of corrupt, dishonest or illegal enterprise. The bill brings changes in section 18 and 24 of the NAB Ordinance, that diminishes the power of the Chairman NAB to arrest the accused and casts this duty on the Accountability Court.
Also, anyone who is under accusation of corruption matching or exceeding Rs. 50 crore shall be imprisoned solely as ‘C-Class’ prisons. This ordinance is castigated because targets those opposition politicians in NAB custody. Also, NAB has abused the powers in past and to remove the powers from the Chairman during inquiry or investigation would make NAB ineffective body. Also, the option of voluntary return of the proceeds from corruption without penalty makes the entire law and justice machinery as market place for bargaining.
But despite the grey areas, the ordinance is in line to wash the corruptive image of the national political and government authorities. Also, will be in line with the steps to take out Pakistan from the Grey List of Financial Action Task Forc.
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