National Assembly passes bill to curtail CJP’s powers
- Bill prevents chief justice from taking suo moto notice in individual capacity
The National Assembly (NA) on Wednesday passed a bill aimed at curtailing the powers of the chief justice of Pakistan, including revoking the power to take suo moto notice in an individual capacity, Aaj News reported.
A simple majority passed the bill after the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) withdrew its proposed amendments.
The federal cabinet had approved the bill seeking the said amendment on Tuesday.
Reacting to the development, former information minister and senior leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Fawad Chaudhry said the government made a “stealthy amendment” to provide relief to Nawaz Sharif in his disqualification case.
“They again proved how big a fraud they are. Nawaz Sharif was disqualified under Article 184(3); how can you amend it by common law?”
He asked the PML-N supremo to come and face trial and stop seeking back doors entries to [national politics].
The proposed amendments to the Supreme Court’s (SC) rules were tabled in NA on Tuesday, and Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar called for a debate on the bills on Wednesday.
The standing committee passed the “Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act, 2023”, with a few additional amendments suggested during the Wednesday session.
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One of these amendments is the right to appeal against suo motu verdicts taken up to 30 days before the passing of the Lawyers’ Protection Act. Another is that any case that involves interpreting the Constitution will not have a bench with fewer than five judges.
During the debate, the law minister pointed out that “for the past year, two senior SC judges have not been included in any important bench. This should not happen.”
He was of the view that suo moto power was being used as a “one-man show”. He also stressed that a constitutional amendment was not needed to reduce chief justice’s powers.
“Unfortunately, there has not been a full court session of the Supreme Court for the past three years. It is the federal government’s duty to fill the vacuum through legislation.”
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The development comes as the Supreme Court took up the case of a delay in Punjab’s elections.
On Monday, 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 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.