Court snatches Zardari’s amnesty in ‘landmark ruling’, say lawyers

December 17th, 2009 - 2:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Pervez Musharraf Lahore, Dec 17 (IANS) Lawyers in this Pakistani city have hailed the Supreme Court ruling declaring the National Reconciliation Order (NRO) null and void as a landmark judgement and demanded that President Asif Ali Zardari step down from his post.
The court had ruled Wednesday that the decree protecting Zardari and his allies against charges of corruption was illegal and against the constitution.

Former Supreme Court Bar Association president Hamid Khan said the judgement was the outcome of the lawyers’ movement that had made the judiciary an independent institution.

He said Zardari should step down voluntarily as president to defend cases pending against him in courts, Dawn reported Thursday.

Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) secretary Muqtadir Akhter Shabbir said the court had proved that there were no privileged classes in the country before the law.

He said lawyers were proud of the independent judiciary in the country and would continue to support its decisions.

Former LHCBA president Anwar Kamal stressed that by annulling the NRO, the Supreme Court has closed the door of corruption in the country for all time to come. He demanded that all those holding public positions who took benefit from the ordinance should step down.

The NRO, issued by former president Pervez Musharraf, had scrapped all corruption cases against politicians and bureaucrats filed between January 1986 and October 1999, on the grounds that they may have been politically motivated.

The ordinance allowed Benazir Bhutto and her husband Zardari to return to Pakistan.

According to Geo News, a 17-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry Wednesday declared the NRO ultra vires and violative of various constitutional provisions.

Former federal minister Mubashar Hassan, former bureaucrat Roedad Khan, Qazi Hussain Ahmed and Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif had challenged the NRO before the Supreme Court in 2007.

“All steps taken, actions suffered, and all orders passed by whatever authority, any orders passed by the courts of law including the orders of discharge and acquittals recorded in favour of the accused persons, are also declared never to have existed in the eyes of law and resultantly of no legal effect,” the court ruled in its short order read out by Chief Justice Chaudhry.

The larger bench of the apex court ruled that all cases in which the accused persons were either discharged or acquitted shall stand revived and relegated to the status of pre-Oct 5, 2007 position.

The court directed the courts concerned, including the trial, the appellate and the review courts, to summon the people accused in such cases and then to proceed in the respective matters in accordance with law from the stage from where such proceedings had been brought to an end in pursuance of the provisions of the NRO.

The Supreme Court ruled that all cases under investigation or pending enquiries and which had either been withdrawn or where the investigations or enquiries had been terminated on account of the NRO shall also stand revived and the relevant and competent authorities shall proceed in the matter in accordance with law.

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