Revival Of National Accountability Ordinance In Sindh
The Sindh Assembly is set to revive the application of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999, better known as the National Accountability Bureau law, in the province and the law department is currently working on a draft law.
The Sindh Advocate informed the Sindh High Court that the provincial government is in the process of reviewing the law — National Accountability Ordinance 1999 Sindh Repeal Bill, 2017 — it had passed several weeks ago.
The former President Asif Ali Zardari, a few days ago, directed the Chief Minister of Sindh to reconsider the law that repealed the applicability of the National Accountability Bureau law in the province of Sindh. The Chief Minister was requested to bring about a new anti-grant law in agreement with the laws prevailing in other provinces of Pakistan.
In the province of Sindh, the National Accountability Bureau is currently probing corruption charges against over sixty (60) bureaucrats and politicians.
In the wake of the directive to the Chief Minister, a meeting of the provincial cabinet would take place before the upcoming session of the Sindh Assembly to discuss, and approve, the draft law.
If all went well then the applicability of the National Accountability Bureau law would be revived in the province by the Assembly.
On the pattern of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, both the National Accountability Bureau and the newly established Sindh Accountability Agency would operate parallel to each other and take action against concerned provincial employees.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the provincial government established its own provincial Ehtesab Commission but did not repeal the applicability of the National Accountability Bureau law.
The concerned law was repealed by the Sindh Assembly recently on the assertion of the law minister that after the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, anti-corruption was a provincial subject thus the National Accountability Bureau, which is a federal body, had no role or jurisdiction in the provincial departments or institutions.
After the Bill was passed, the Sindh Governor refused to sign it and sent it back with objections. The Sindh cabinet discussed the observations of the Governor and unanimously approved to go ahead with the same legislation. Hence, the Provincial Assembly passed the law again on 27th of July.
However, the Governor still refused to give his consent to the law, to which the Law Minister pointed out that under Article 116 (3), a Bill “automatically becomes an Act” if the Governor fails to give assent the second time within ten (10) days.
After enactment of the law, the National Accountability Bureau can only act against the employees of the federal government in Sindh, but cannot take action against those employed within the provincial government.
After the law was passed, the Opposition challenged it in the Sindh High Court. The Opposition claimed that the NAO is protected by Article 270 of the Constitution and the Sindh Assembly cannot repeal the National Accountability Bureau’s powers as it is an independent authority.