The Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial stated on Thursday that misuse of the law, not the law itself, was the problem, adding that accountability was necessary for constitutional rule in the nation.
The chief justice said that corruption should be dealt with rigorously but asked what the standard for the court would be during the hearing of a plea filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan contesting the recent revisions to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO).
The 21st hearing of the petition was conducted by a three-member special bench of the Supreme Court, where Imran’s attorney Khawaja Haris continued to make his case.
According to Haris, the current legal system violates both the Constitution and the social compact between the general public and public officials.
The top justice concurred with Haris that corruption was a disease and emphasized the importance of accountability in the fight against corruption for constitutional rule. He did, however, question the point at which the court determined that fundamental rights were infringed. He said that while the law itself wasn’t the issue, its violation was.
Sitting on the bench, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah asked, “What if a citizen said there was no law on corruption, so ask parliament to enact a law, and the citizens would come again and say the law against corruption was not strict, so tell parliament to make the law stricter?” If there were no laws, he suggested, asking parliament to pass one.
The CJP explained to Khawaja Haris that he was making the argument that corruption damaged fundamental rights, so the court’s ruling should reflect this. Public office holders would not be held accountable under current law, Haris remarked.
He asked the court to make decisions while bearing the issues mentioned in his petition in mind. The basic rights were impacted by being unaccounted for due to corruption, he said again.
The Reko Diq case was crucial, according to the CJP, and the court would hear it the next week. The hearing was postponed till November 29.