LAHORE - The Lahore High Court Thursday required the counsel for the National Accountability Bureau to satisfy it as to what law governs the detention of 120 days when the constitution bars the same under Article 89.

A full bench headed by Justice Shahid Waheed passed the order on petitions challenging the NAB ordinance and conviction of Nawaz Sharif and others under the same law. Justice Atir Mahmood and Justice Sahhid Jamil Khan were the other members of the bench.

NAB Additional Prosecutor General Jahanzeb Bharwana appeared before the bench and argued that Legal Framework Order 2002 gave the status of “Act” to the NAB Ordinance under Article 270 –AA of the Constitution. Later, he said the same ordinance was duly approved as an Act of Parliament through 17th Amendment Act 2003.

The prosecutor also argued that certain president’s orders mentioned in Article 270-AA  were declared as having been made without lawful authority and of no legal effect in the light of 18th amendment. He said all the laws between Oct 12, 1999 and Oct 31, 2003 that were still in force were allowed to continue to be in force until altered, repealed or amended by the authority concerned.

At this, Justice Shahid Waheed asked him whether the laws declared existent by the 18th amendment were not needed to be ratified later by the parliament for their further continuation, observing that the 18th amendment did not validate the previous laws made under the PCO.

On it, Bharwana contended that the limitation of 120 days was not applicable to the laws made under the PCO No. 1 of 1999. He said the NAB law is protected under the Constitution. Deputy Attorney General Imran Aziz argued that the laws were effective in the 18th amendment under Article 270 –AA of the Constitution.

After hearing the arguments of the NAB Additional Prosecutor General,  the bench sought more arguments as to why the limitation of 120 days was not applicable to NAB law. The court would hear the matter on Friday (today) at 10 am.

Pakistan Lawyers Foundation and Advocate Saad Saleem had moved the petitions arguing that the NAB law was promulgated by military dictator retired Gen Pervez Musharraf under Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) No 1 of 1999 as well as Order No 9 of 1999.

They said order No.9 was promulgated only to amend PCO No.1 of 1999 with the insertion of section 5A (1) in it to the effect that limitation of 120 days prescribed under Article 89 of the Constitution to any ordinance by the president will not be applicable to the laws made under PCO No.1 of 1999. The lawyer contended that as the PCO No.1 was declared without lawful authority and of no legal effect, the amendments in it made underorder No.9 of 1999 would also lapse and therefore, the limitation period of 120 days prescribed under Article 89 would be applicable to the NAB ordinance.

The lawyer said certain laws which were still enforced, shall continue to remain enforced unless amended by the competent legislation under sub-article 2 of Article 270-AA of the Constitution. He prayed to the court to the NAB ordinance ceased to be the law and had become non-existent and a dead letter. He also prayed to the court to set aside all those proceedings being carried out by the NAB courts under the dead law of NAB ordinance.

He said order No.9 was promulgated only to amend PCO No.1 of 1999 with the insertion of section 5A (1) in it to the effect that limitation of 120 days prescribed under Article 89 of the Constitution to any ordinance by the president will not be applicable to the laws made under PCO No.1 of 1999. The lawyer contended that as the PCO No.1 was declared without lawful authority and of no legal effect, the amendments in it made underorder No.9 of 1999 would also lapse and therefore, the limitation period of 120 days prescribed under Article 89 would be applicable to the NAB ordinance.

The lawyer said certain laws which were still enforced, shall continue to remain enforced unless amended by the competent legislation under sub-article 2 of Article 270-AA of the Constitution. He prayed to the court to the NAB ordinance ceased to be the law and had become non-existent and a dead letter. He also prayed to the court to set aside all those proceedings being carried out by the NAB courts under the dead law of NAB ordinance.