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 days.

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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