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21st Amendment: CJP urged to form larger bench

Accepting the plea of one of the petitioner's counsel, a three-member bench of the Supreme Court Tuesday referred the hearing of identical petitions against the 21st Constitutional Amendment to Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk to form a larger bench for adjudication of the case.

Resuming the hearing of the pleas against the establishment of the military courts under 21st Constitutional Amendment, a three-member bench led by Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali redirected Advocate General Islamabad to submit a reply in the matter in three days.

During the course of proceedings, the counsel for Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) and member of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Hamid Khan contended that the matter is of an important nature that necessitates the constitution of a larger bench.

He apprised the bench that in pursuance of the court's directives, provinces have not submitted their responses to the basic structure of the Constitution in the current case. Advocates General for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan informed the bench that they have already submitted their replies. The top legal officer of Sindh stated that his reply was submitted in the registry branch of the apex court in Karachi. Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali queried: Why was the response filed in Karachi when the hearing of the matter was taking place in Islamabad?

Advocate General Islamabad sought three days to file a reply; to which the bench remarked that the court notice is meant for submission of a reply in the matter. Justice Jamali observed that before deciding the matter of the 21st Amendment the court has to decide the 18th Constitutional Amendment case. Referring the matter to Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk for constitution of a larger bench to adjudicate the case, the bench adjourned the hearing of case for an indefinite period.

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