President Dr Arif Alvi on Sunday chose not to approve the National Accountability (Amendment) Bill, 2023, stating that previous amendments to the accountability laws were sub judice before the Supreme Court (SC).
The bill, dubbed “part two of NRO-2” by the opposition, had sailed through the Senate without being referred to the standing committee concerned.
The bill, which had already been passed by the National Assembly, was moved in the Senate by Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar amid a protest by senators belonging to the PTI.
The legislation — proposed by the government in March — not only empowers the NAB chairman to transfer graft cases involving corruption of less than Rs500 million to the relevant agency, authority or department but also closes the pending inquiries and investigations where they think no case is made out.
President Alvi stated that the bill should be reviewed in light of the pending matters in the SC.
He said that previous amendments to the accountability laws were sub judice before the SC and that the bill did not address this aspect.
The president also said that further amendments to the accountability laws “without reviewing the effects of a pending matter should be reviewed once again”.
This is the second time that President Alvi has rejected a bill seeking amendments to the NAB Ordinance. In 2022, he rejected the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Bill, 2022, on the grounds that it was “regressive in nature”.
The rejection of the National Accountability (Amendment) Bill, 2023, is a setback for the government, which had hoped to use the bill to close corruption cases against its political opponents.
It remains to be seen whether the government will attempt to revive the bill or whether it will be abandoned altogether.