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SHC issues notices to federal, provincial governments on new Sindh accountability law

SHC issues notices to federal, provincial governments on new Sindh accountability law

Sindh High Court (SHC) asked the provincial and federal governments on Friday to submit replies on petitions challenging the new law repealing the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 passed by the Sindh Assembly last month.

Separate petitions were filed in the SHC by PML-F's Nusrat Sehar Abbasi and MQM's Farooq Sattar, challenging the law that came into force on Thursday.

The governments have been asked to submit replies by August 16.

Senator Farogh Naseem, who submitted the petition on behalf of Sattar, alleged that the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 Sindh Repeal Act, 2017 is an attempt by the PPP to protect its corruption and is against the basic scheme of the Constitution.

After much frustration over NAB's proceedings against several powerful individuals accused of corruption, the PPP-led provincial government in Sindh last month passed the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 Repeal Bill, 2017 (now an act) to repeal the applicability of NAO, better known as the NAB law, to departments and autonomous bodies controlled by the provincial government.

The Sindh Assembly had also approved the establishment of an accountability agency that would replace the decades-old Anti-Corruption Establishment.

After the bill was first passed on July 3, Sindh Governor Mohammad Zubair had refused to sign it and sent it back with objections. The Sindh cabinet then discussed the observations of the governor and unanimously approved a new draft bill which was passed by the provincial assembly on July 27.

The governor did not give his assent the second time either; Sindh Law Minister Ziaul Hasan Lanjar, however, told reporters that under Article 116 (3), a bill "automatically becomes an act" if the governor fails to give his assent the second time within 10 days.

After enactment of the law, NAB can still act against federal government’s employees in Sindh, but not those employed with the provincial government.

With the enactment of the law, the Sindh Enquiries and Anti-Corruption Act, 1991 and Rules made there-under stand repealed and all cases pending with the Anti-Corruption Establishment, its employees, assets and liabilities are also transferred to the Sindh Accountability Agency.

Under the new law, the Sindh government would establish accountability courts in the province and such courts would be headed by a district and sessions judge (DJ), or a person qualified to be appointed as DJ.

There would also be an accountability commission comprising chairman of the agency, advocate general of the province, prosecutor general, director general and director investigation of the agency. The commission would review the progress of cases of corruption and recommend to the government steps for the eradication of corruption in Sindh.

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