PR No. 62 Corrupt persons to stand Permanently Disqualified from holding Public Office or from being a Government Servant Islamabad: January 7, 2017.

Federal Finance Minister and Chairman Laws Review Committee, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, held a press conference at Punjab House, Islamabad today, in which he stated that under directions of the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on January 05, 2017, the Laws Review Committee has examined and proposed amendments in Section 15 and substitution of Section 25 of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 (“NAO”).

With approval of the Prime Minister and the Federal Cabinet, the government has decided to immediately promulgate the National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, to give immediate effect to the aforementioned amendments.

The Ordinance will be laid in the Senate session starting on Monday January 09, 2017.

Prior to the promulgation of the National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, NAO contains provisions for voluntary return and plea bargain. The provision for voluntary return did not entail disqualification of a holder of public office or dismissal of a government servant who enters into voluntary return arrangements. Nor did it require approval of the Accountability Court. The result was that a corrupt person who voluntarily returned the proceeds of corruption could continue to be a holder of public office or a government servant.

The provision for plea bargain required approval of the Court but disqualification to hold a public office was for a period of ten years only.

Accordingly, the Laws Review Committee has proposed certain amendments, the salient features of which are as follows:

(i)              The provisions of voluntary return and plea bargain have been merged.

(ii)             A voluntary return arrangement will now be subject to approval of the Court, and will not be at the discretion of Chairman, NAB.

(iii)            The person entering into such arrangement shall be deemed to be convicted and;

(a)   shall stand disqualified from being a holder of public office; and

(b)  if in government service shall stand dismissed without any pecuniary benefits and shall not thereafter be eligible to hold public office.

(iv)           A person convicted by the Court for corruption and corrupt practices shall cease to hold public office and shall stand disqualified from being a holder of public office in future.

Upon promulgation of the National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, the aforementioned amendments will become operative with immediate effect.

Furthermore, in accordance with unanimous motions passed by the National Assembly and Senate, the Speaker National Assembly in consultation with the Chairman, Senate and Leaders of the Parliamentary Parties has constituted a 20-member Parliamentary Committee comprising 13-MNAs and 07-Senators “to revisit the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 and recommend necessary amendments therein”. The Committee is likely to commence its work in the week beginning January 09, 2017.

The Finance Minister was accompanied at the press conference by Mr. Zahid Hamid, Minister for Law and Justice, Ms. Anusha Rahman, Minister of State for IT & Telecom, Khawaja Zaheer Ahmed, Special Assistant to Prime Minister, and Barrister Zafarullah Khan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Law.