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Ex-PM Khan complains about lack of legal access in SC appearance

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government seeks live coverage of case
Motorists drive past Pakistan’s Supreme Court in Islamabad on April 5, 2022. AFP
Motorists drive past Pakistan’s Supreme Court in Islamabad on April 5, 2022. AFP

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan told the Supreme Court that he was not being allowed access to his lawyers to prepare arguments in a case related to the amendments made to the National Accountability Ordinance.

A five-member Supreme Court resumed hearing the NAB amendments case, with Khan joining via video link from Adiala Jail.

The court decided by a majority of 4:1 that the proceedings will not be livestreamed, with Justice Athar Minallah dissenting.

CJP Isa said that the case was not livestreamed because it was not a matter of public interest.

However, at Khan’s complaint, Justice Isa assured him that he will be allowed to meet his lawyer as often as he needed.

The case’s hearing was then adjourned, without date for next hearing being fixed.

The last hearing was adjourned indefinitely, with orders to ensure former prime minister Imran Khan’s presence via video link at the next hearing as well. It ended without Khan speaking during the hearing.

Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa presided over the bench. Justices Amin-ud-Din, Jamal Mandokhail, Athar Minallah, and Hassan Azhar Rizvi are the other members of the bench.

Amendments were made to the accountability laws by the then-Pakistan Democratic Movement-led government in 2022. They included reducing the term of the NAB chairman and prosecutor general to three years, limiting NAB’s jurisdiction to cases involving over Rs500 million, and transferring all pending inquiries, investigations, and trials to the relevant authorities.

Khan had filed a petition in 2022 challenging the amendments, claiming that the changes to the NAB law were made to benefit the influential accused persons and legitimise corruption.

In its appeal, the federal government had requested the apex court to set aside the September 15 majority judgement that had declared amendments to the NAO illegal.

On September 15, 2023, the top court by a majority of two-to-one ruled that the public representatives who benefited from the amendments made by the Pakistan Democratic Movement government in the NAO would have to face corruption references again.

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Through the intra-court appeals, the federal government had argued that the PTI founder, who had challenged the amendments, was given opportunities during the hearing not only to make verbal submissions for 27 hearings but also to make submissions in rebuttal, wher­eas the federation was restricted only to answering queries from the bench.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has also filed an application to have the hearing live-streamed.

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NAB

Supreme Court

National Accountability Bureau