SC Says Accountability Laws Being Used To ‘Arm-Twist’ Political Opponents Into Submission
In a scathing judgement on Monday, the Supreme Court criticised the accountability laws of the country, saying these laws were being used as a tool to ‘arm-twist and pressurise’ political opponents into submission and ‘fracturing political parties’.
The remarks were made in a case pertaining to the bail application of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawmaker Khawaja Saad Rafique against his arrest by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in a corruption case.
Some pages of the verdict that have been doing rounds on social media stated that the ‘accountability laws were successfully employed as tools to change political loyalties, for splintering and fracturing political parties’.
In a ruling authored by Justice Maqbool Baqar, the SC said: “Accountability laws were framed and applied with an oblique motive of arm twisting and pressurizing the political opponent into submission, subjugation and compliance, so as to remove them from the public scene at least temporarily.”
“Rather than doing any good to the country or our body politic and cleansing the fountainheads of governance, these accountability laws, the manner in which they were enforced, caused further degeneration and created chaos,” the judge said, adding that until we create a ‘culture of transparency, liberty, civility, and democratic values, our desire for peace and order shall continue to elude us’.
The apex court observed that NAB seemed reluctant in proceeding against people on one side of the political divide even in respect of financial scams of massive proportion while those on the other side are being arrested and incarcerated for months and years without any sufficient cause and cases remained pending for years.
It also criticised low-conviction rate of NAB and said such practices were harming the country. Regarding the NAB chief’s power of arrest, the Supreme Court noted that the power of arrest should not be deployed as a tool of oppression and harassment.
It went to say: “People with notorious backgrounds and criminal credentials were thrust to rule us in various capacities with predictable results. Similarly, those, who caused death, destruction, and mayhem in our society were trained, financed, protected, promoted, and eulogized, thus turning them into Frankenstein. Meanwhile, corruption, misconduct, and malpractice in governance kept growing at exponential rates and became all-pervading. None of the state institutions whichsoever remained free from this morass.”