The joint parliament session on Monday approved the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill, 2023 aimed at curtailing the powers of the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) — including the suo motu and the formation of benches — with a majority after the President Dr Arif Alvi returned the bill unsigned.

Last week, a simple majority of the National Assembly passed the bill and sent it to the President for approval. However, the president returned the bill for reconsideration to parliament as per the provisions of the Article 75 of the Constitution, stating that the bill prima-facie travels beyond the competence of parliament and can be assailed as colourable legislation.

Reacting to the development, PM Shehbaz said by returning the bill, Alvi acted as a worker of the PTI, and not as President.

"President Alvi returning the Supreme Court Bill duly passed by Parliament is most unfortunate," the prime minister said in a hard-hitting tweet.

Dar presents Money Bill 2023 in NA

Earlier, Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Ishaq Dar presented the Money Bill 2023 in the National Assembly, seeking the release of funds to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for holding elections in Punjab as ordered by the Supreme Court. The apex court has directed the government to hold Punjab polls on May 14.

The SC had asked the government to arrange funds for elections by April 10.

The bill presented states that the required funds for the elections in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa shall be “an expenditure charged upon the Federal Consolidated Fund, which comprises all revenues received by the federal government, all loans raised by that government and all money received by it in repayment of any loan.”

The bill stated that it shall “override other laws” and have effect “notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, rules and regulations” when it was in force.

It added that the proposed law would stand repealed once the elections to both the assemblies were held, noting that the general elections and polls to the Sindh and Balochistan assemblies need not be held for it to be repealed.

Dar said the national and provincial elections should be held at the same time, under a caretaker setup. “This will help in reducing the expenditure,” he said.

IMF Agreement soon

On the occasion, the finance minister said that the government’s first priority was to avert a default. “We have been successful to avert it, and now the next step is to establish a pathway to prosperity and to provide relief to the public.

“However, certain elements remain busy causing hurdles in the path of the country’s economic growth,” he said while slamming the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

“They (PTI) wish that the IMF deal is not reached and Pakistan gets bankrupted,” he said.

Justice Isasays SC committed to Constitution

In a separate development, Justice Qazi Faez Isa of the Supreme Court said on Monday that the country's top court stood by the Constitution.

“I just wanted to say that my institution and I stand behind this book,” Justice Qazi Faez said while addressing a special national constitutional convention at the National Assembly hall.

Isa made a surprise appearance at the golden jubilee convention of the 1973 constitution but had to clarify twice that he was there solely to commemorate the constitution.

“After Allah, this book (Constitution) is the shade we all live in. It is our identity,” he said.

He said he appeared at the convention because other senior judges could not attend.

“I want to clarify that I do not agree with the political speeches made here today,” Justice Isa added.

“You might show up in court tomorrow and tell me I ruled against you even though you invited me here,” he said, stirring laughter in the hall.

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