Justice Masoor Ali Shah Suggests Forming Full Court Bench On NAB Amendments Issue

Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial expresses desire to wrap up the case before he retires next month

Justice Masoor Ali Shah Suggests Forming Full Court Bench On NAB Amendments Issue

Justice Mansoor Ali Shah on Friday suggested that a full court should be formed in the case against the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Amendments case filed by former prime minister Imran Khan.

On Friday, a three-member bench of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah heard the case.

At the beginning of the hearing, Justice Shah suggested that a full court bench should be formed over the matter, adding that he had written a note on June 22 in the case of creating special courts.

He continued that the case on the Supreme Court Practice and Procedure Bill has yet to be decided and that it needs to be heard by a full court. If that case had been decided, then things would be quite different, he remarked.

Shah again requested the chief justice that a full court should hear the NAB amendments case, he observed.

He went on to ask the petitioner's legal representative whether the court could hear the case without first deciding on the Supreme Court Practice and Procedure Bill case?

Chief Justice Bandial, though, directed lawyer Makhdoom Ali Khan to prepare his answer on this point for the next hearing.

However, Makhdoom Ali Khan stated that he agreed with Justice Mansoor Ali Shah's view and that he would be able to counsel the court on its legal aspects after preparation, but the court can continue hearing the case to the extent of whether the petition is maintainable or not. 

At this point, Justice Ijazul Ahsan interjected and said that if the court finds that the case can be heard under Article 184-3, then the hearings of the case will continue.

Justice Shah stated that if the court has completed hearings on the NAB amendment laws, then this bench can continue, otherwise, legal provisions do not permit the same bench to continue hearing the case.

Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial reminded that while one is entitled to hold different opinions, judicial decisions are taken by the majority. He noted that on 27 hearings, the petitioners presented their arguments, and on 19 hearings, Makhdoom Ali Khan gave his arguments.

This case was not supposed to have dragged on for this long, he contended, adding that Makhdoom Ali Khan has given good arguments on why the case is not maintainable.

CJP Bandial directed the petitioners and defendants to prepare their final arguments for the next hearing.

Expressing his frustration, CJP Bandial said that this case was filed in 2022 and has been subject to delays ever since.

He added that it was not important that the case is only decided on its merits. Rather they can just issue their verdict on whether the case is maintainable in court or not.

CJP Bandial added that, in his opinion, they cannot review amendments made in 2023 in a case case filed in 2022.

Surprisingly, he went on to state that no one had moved the top court to challenge the amendments made to the NAB law in 2023.

He instructed that the amended law and written responses should be submitted to the court.

CJP Bandial went on to remark that his retirement is upon him and that he has to decide this important case under any circumstances. Should he fail to decide the case, it would be a matter of great embarrassment for him.

Further hearings in the case were adjourned until August 28.