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Pak SC for formation of larger bench to review NRO

Last Updated: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - 17:46

Islamabad: The Pakistan Supreme Court on Wednesday
suggested formation of a larger bench to review the National
Reconciliation Ordinance issued by former President Pervez
Musharraf, a move that could have significant implications for
President Asif Ali Zardari and others granted amnesty in graft
cases under the controversial law.

A two-judge bench, which was hearing a case related to
the acquittal of a former Federal Investigation Agency officer
under the NRO, suggested to Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry
that a larger bench be constituted to review the ordinance.
The judges said the larger bench should "interpret" the
entire NRO, especially Section 7 that was used to grant
amnesty in graft cases to dozens of people, including Zardari
and his slain wife former premier Benazir Bhutto.

The larger bench should also review all cases related to
the NRO that are pending with the apex court, the judges said.

Musharraf promulgated the NRO on October 5, 2007, a day
ahead of the presidential election that he contested while
still in uniform. It benefited leaders of the now ruling
Pakistan People`s Party but did not cover leaders of the
opposition PML-N, including former premier Nawaz Sharif.

After the ordinance was issued, the PPP did not boycott
the presidential poll. This gave an air of respectability to
the election, which was boycotted by all other parties. About
a month later, Musharraf imposed emergency in an attempt to
strengthen his tenuous grip on power.

When the Supreme Court ruled last month that the 2007
emergency was unconstitutional and illegal, it said the fate
of the NRO would have to be decided by Parliament within 120

PPP leaders have been insisting that the apex court`s
order will not affect the President but legal experts said
Zardari would have to step down if the law is scrapped and
graft cases against him are re-opened.

Bureau Report

First Published: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - 17:46
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