The legislations, including a controversial amendment to NAB laws, were approved by the federal cabinet last week
President Arif Alvi on Thursday signed eight new ordinances that had been approved by the federal cabinet last week, including a controversial amendment to the NAB Ordinance.
Declaring the ordinances essential to the “public interest,” Law Minister Farogh Naseem had told a press conference last week that the government would have preferred to enact them through Parliament, but the opposition had compelled the government to resort to ordinances.
The ordinances promulgated are as follows:
- Superior Courts (Court Dress and Mode of Address) Order (Repeal) Ordinance 2019, which seeks to abolish compulsory dress codes for judges of the Supreme Court and high courts during judicial proceedings or ceremonial functions.
- Benami Transactions (Prohibition) (Amendment) Ordinance 2019, which aims to expand the definition of a whistleblower. Under it, any information obtained during NAB and FIA investigations can now be used as a legal source of information to trace and identify the real owners of ‘Benami’ properties.
- Civil Procedure Code (CPC) Amended Ordinance, which aims to ensure the delivery of speedy and expeditious justice in civil cases. Under the legislation, long-pending civil cases can proceed simultaneously in two instances, allowing for one bench to continue hearing the case even if another grants a stay order.
- Legal Aid and Justice Authority Ordinance 2019, which seeks to establish a legal and institutional framework to promote access to justice by ensuring legal aid, financial or other services to the poor and vulnerable sections of society in criminal cases. The ordinance will prioritize disadvantaged women and children, especially for sexual offenses.
- Letter of Administration and Succession Certificates Ordinance 2019, which provides expediting and issuing succession certificates by the National Database and Registration Authority within 15-20 days.
- Enforcement of Women’s Property Rights Ordinance 2019, which aims to address the grievances of women over inherited assets. Under it, disputes revolving around property inherited by women and the right of inheritance would be resolved on expedited basis.
- Whistle-Blowers Act, which provides for any informant’s identity to be kept completely confidential and designates an award of 20% in case of any recovered monies.
- National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance 2019 is the most controversial legislation promulgated by the president. Under it, anyone facing charges of corruption matching or exceeding Rs. 50 million would be eligible to be imprisoned solely in ‘C-Class’ prisons. More importantly, this would apply to anyone even accused of malfeasance, whether or not any charges have been brought against them. It is widely believed this ordinance targets politicians in NAB custody, though the government has denied this.