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Pakistan

NA sends bill aimed at curtailing CJP's powers to law committee

  • Bill proposes delegating the powers of the chief justice to take suo motu notices and constitute benches to a three-member committee
Published March 28, 2023 Updated March 29, 2023

The National Assembly on Tuesday sent a bill aimed at curtailing powers of the chief justice to a committee on law after legislators called for a detailed debate on it, Aaj News reported.

“Order of the day said that the bill should be passed today but after a sense of the house both the bills [related to Supreme Court tweaks and lawyers welfare] are referred to the committee concerned on law and justice and it should present the report at the earliest,” NA Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said.

Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, who moved the bills, supported the call but urged the committee to do it by tomorrow (Wednesday) so that there should be an accelerated process to avoid any crisis.

“I would say that now there is a crisis situation, every day it is being discussed in media,” the law minister said. “Most of the members are here, and there is a flow and tempo”.

He suggested that the committee be asked to have a “healthy session” as the bill contained just five clauses.

The bill was presented hours after the federal cabinet gave the go-ahead to the bills.

“The point of view of two judges released yesterday has prompted another wave of concern. This apprehended that the division in the institution because of the “one-man show” should not harm the sanctity of the institution,” he said on the floor of the house as he presented the bill after the cabinet’s approval.

He said the cabinet unanimously approved the Supreme Court Practice and Procedure Act 2023 and advised it to present in Parliament.

The development comes as the Supreme Court took up the case of delay in Punjab’s elections.

A draft of the bill proposes delegating the chief justice’s powers to take suo motu notices and constitute benches to a three-member committee consisting of the CJP and two seniormost judges.

Justice Qazi Faez Isa, who is on course to become the chief justice in September, and Justice Tariq Masood are the two senior judges after CJP Bandial.

“Every cause, appeal or matter before the Supreme Court shall be heard or disposed of by a bench constituted by the committee comprising the Chief Justice and two senior-most judges in order of seniority,” the bill proposes.

“The decisions of the committee shall be by majority.”

A day ago, Justices Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Jamal Khan Mandokhail of the Supreme Court released dissenting notes about the Supreme Court’s March 1 order about elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The two judges called for revisiting the power of the “one-man show” enjoyed by the chief justice, saying that the country’s top court could not “be dependent on the solitary decision of one man”.

The honourable judges said the suo motu proceedings regarding the provincial elections should stand dismissed by a majority of 4-3 and contended that the CJP did not have the power to restructure benches without the consent of the respective judges.

Regarding the constitution of benches, the bill passed today states that every cause, matter or appeal before the apex court would be heard and disposed of by a bench constituted by a committee comprising the CJP and the two senior-most judges. It added that a majority would take the committee’s decisions.

Regarding exercising the apex court’s original jurisdiction, the bill said that any matter invoking Article 184(3) would first be placed before the above-mentioned committee.

“If the committee is of the view that a question of public importance with reference to enforcement of any of the fundamental rights conferred by Chapter I of Part II of the Constitution is involved, it shall constitute a bench comprising not less than three judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan which may also include the members of the committee, for adjudication of the matter,” the bill reads.

On appealing any verdict by an apex court bench which exercised Article 184(3)‘s jurisdiction, the bill said that the appeal would lie within 30 days of the bench’s order to a larger SC bench. It added that the appeal would be fixed for hearing within a period not exceeding 14 days.

The bill also proposed changes to other aspects of the law.

Comments

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KU Mar 29, 2023 12:24am
There has always been a school of thought in our elite and among pillars of the state, and they think that only an elite group should lead the country and benefit each other, while democracy should be sold as a soap opera to the citizens. These self-professed leaders also believe that Pakistan has a 5000-year-old history, rule by force and deceit have been the norm throughout this history. If this bill is not an indication of birds of corruption will always flock together, then what else is?
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BK Mar 29, 2023 01:33am
Fail to understand what is going on in Pakistan at the moment. PDM is hell bent in ruining all the institutions of the country to benefit elites, both political and army. It’s a total paralysis of our system, a complete collapse and high jacking! It’s a soft bloodless coup by the army. A very very disappointing situation and I am feeling hopeless for our country’s future. IK cannot fight this alone, if people don’t join the struggle then our future is VERY DARK
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BK Mar 29, 2023 01:33am
Fail to understand what is going on in Pakistan at the moment. PDM is hell bent in ruining all the institutions of the country to benefit elites, both political and army. It’s a total paralysis of our system, a complete collapse and high jacking! It’s a soft bloodless coup by the army. A very very disappointing situation and I am feeling hopeless for our country’s future. IK cannot fight this alone, if people don’t join the struggle then our future is VERY DARK
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MKA Mar 29, 2023 05:53am
CJ should not misguide us, we need full and unadulterated justice not his pennies.
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