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The National Assembly on Wednesday approved the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Amendment Bill 202 by majority vote.

The bill was moved by Minister of State for Law and Justice Shahadat Awan.

The bill is aimed at excluding private transactions from the scope of National Accountability.

Under the amendments, the pecuniary jurisdiction of the NAB has been fixed to take only action against mega scandals and the accountability watchdog will not have the authority to investigate corruption cases of less than Rs500 million.

Further, it has been proposed that supplementary references can only be filed with the permission of the court to expedite the proceedings of the court within one year.

As per the bill, the investigation officers shall not harass any person at the time of investigation or inquiry and they will confine their questions relevant to the investigation or inquiry or for extracting evidence.

Under the bill, the accused must be informed whether he has been summoned in the capacity of accused or witness and information be given to him to enable him to give his evidence.

Section 25 is related to protecting the interest of the Government that in case persons entering into plea bargain fail to make payment, pursuant to the payment approved by the court, the plea bargain agreement will become infructuous.

The new amendments also strip the president of his authority to appoint judges of accountability courts in consultation with high court chief justices.

Section 16 of the National Accountability Ordinance has also been amended which states that an accused will be tried for an offense in the court under whose territorial jurisdiction the offense would allegedly be committed.

In an amendment to Section 19E, NAB’s authority to allow surveillance with the help of a high court has been withdrawn, including any assistance from government agencies to be used against the accused in the trial.