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ISLAMABAD: The Federal Cabinet members have said that no single judge, be it the Chief Justice, can be bigger than the Supreme Court itself.

These remarks were made by the cabinet members at a meeting of Federal Cabinet on March 28, 2023 when “the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023” came under discussion. Minister for Law & Justice brought up an agenda under Rule 20(6) of Rules of Business, 1973 as a table item.

The Law & Justice Division briefed the Cabinet that Article 191 of the Constitution provided that subject to the Constitution and law, the Supreme Court may make rules regarding the practice and procedure of the court.

Cabinet asks President Alvi to sign SC Practice and Procedure Act

It was noted that the exercise of original Jurisdiction by the Supreme Court under clause (3) of Article 184 of the Constitution had been a subject of discussion at various forums with respect to invoking of suo motu powers, constitution of benches and the absence of right of appeal.

Furthermore, applications filed for early hearing of a case were not fixed for hearing and it was expedient to address this issue. Also it was the right of every citizen under Article 10A of the Constitution to appoint a counsel of his choice with right to review cases filed under Article 188 of the Constitution. It was apprised that the Bill had been prepared to achieve these objectives.

The Cabinet was requested to accord approval to the Bill in terms of rule 15 of the Rules of Business, 1973 for introduction in the National Assembly.

During discussion, the members observed that Supreme Court, as per the Constitutional scheme of things, was a unity. It had collective wisdom and no single Judge, be it the Chief Justice, could be bigger than the Supreme Court itself.

The members maintained that vesting unbridled powers in the Chief Justice raised the prospect of Supreme Court decisions being influenced through arbitrary formation of benches and allocation of cases. The members; therefore, unanimously endorsed the draft Bill to restore the concept of unity of the Supreme Court.

It was pointed out that rule 27(5A) of Rules of Business, 1973, will have to be invoked to dispense with the requirements for submission of the case twice to the Federal Cabinet, first in principle approval and then for approval of draft Bill. In view of the importance of the matter the legislative proposal was taken up directly by the Federal Cabinet instead of routing the Bill though CCLC.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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