Lahore : The government has decided to bring amendment in National Accountability Ordinance 1999 by amending the Section 25-A, following which permission of court will be necessary to strike any deal about voluntary return or plea bargain.
“The person found involved in corrupt practices would be banned for lifetime from holding any public or government office,” Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar said while addressing a press conference along Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid, Minister for Information Technology Anusha Rehman, Special Assistant to Prime
Minister on Law Barrister Zafar Ullah.
Earlier, the person striking plea bargain was disqualified for holding public or government office for ten years but this law would ensure lifetime ban of corrupt elements.
The Minister for Finance said there had been specific observations for long time about Section 25-A (Voluntary return and plea bargain) and Supreme Court had also asked the Attorney General about the government stance on the issue. He said Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif had assigned the task to review this law and the Cabinet approval has also been obtained to change the existing law (25-A).
Ishaq Dar said that the Ordinance will be issued today before 12 am in this regard which will help to take effective actions against corrupt elements. The existing 25-A sections says ” where a holder of public office or any other person, prior to the authorization of
investigation against him, voluntarily comes forward and offers to return the assets or gains acquired or made by him in the course, or as the consequence, of any offence under this Ordinance, the Chairman NAB may accept such offer and after determination of the amount due from such person and its deposit with the NAB,discharge such person from all his liability in respect of the matter or transaction in issue ; Provided that the matter is not sub judice in any court of law”.
The minister said that amendment in the existing laws would also seek prior approval of court before any such deal. He said that the convicted corrupt person would also have to face lifetime ban to hold any public or government office. He said the government is very sincere in eliminating corruption, following which the Ordinance is being promulgated in this regard.
It would have taken time if this legislation was enacted through a bill, he said and added the government decided to promulgate an ordinance for immediate and effective action
against corrupt elements.
Ishaq Dar said that 20-member parliamentary committee has already been constituted to review the NAB related laws which would further review it and everything will be finalized through consensus. ” This Ordinance will be laid in the Senate on Monday and it is the prerogative of the Parliament to bring more changes in the law,” the Finance Minister added.
Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid termed this Ordinance `historical’ and in line with the manifesto of PML-N government, which determined a zero tolerance policy
against corruption. He said that all provisions under this new law about plea bargain and voluntary return would be merged.
Zahid Hamid said that several resolutions were adopted in the Senate and National Assembly to root out menace of corruption and this law would be revisited by Law Review Committee for the similar purpose.
The Parliamentary Committee, he said, would further review the NAB laws.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Law Barrister Zafar Ullah said the proposed law is very much strict even as compared to other countries in the region and it will help to root out the menace of corruption.
Minister for Information Technology said Anusha Rehman said that PML-N is committed for unified policy against corruption. “Our policies reflect our commitment against this menace and Law Review Committee would further revisit the NAB laws for
improvement in them, ” she added.
Responding to a question, Minister for Finance said that government is committed towards improvement in various sectors and it should be given credit for reviewing and improving the electoral laws, companies law and introducing several other important legislative proposals.