Accountability Court is not Mandated to Order to Re-assess the Voluntary Return Liability: SC
There are two concepts in the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, to settle the cases of corrupt practices without adjudication: one is voluntary return scheme and another is the plea bargaining. The former takes place at the time of enquiry before an investigation has been initiated by the Accountability Court. It has to be voluntary and without duress. The voluntary return becomes effective with full payment not with willingness to pay on the part of the accused. On contrary, the plea bargaining becomes effective when the accused agrees to return the embezzled amount. The Court has no role in the voluntary return scheme while it does have a role in the plea bargaining cases.
A case in this background came up before the Supreme Court where the Accountability Court had ordered to re-assess or re-value the amount which the petitioner had previously agreed to return voluntarily under the voluntary return scheme. The Court ruled that under the voluntary return scheme (Section 25 (a)), the Accountability Court has no jurisdiction to direct the authorities to re-assess the already agreed amount by the accused persons. The prerogative to order to re-assess the voluntary return liability lies solely with the Chairman NAB not with the court.
The Court draw a clear line between the voluntary return scheme and the plea bargaining and asserted that the Accountability Court has no concern with the former. Hence, the order of the Accountability Court was set aside and so was declared the super structure built upon it.c.p._1303_2020