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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill, 2023 was challenged before the Supreme Court, with prayer to declare the “impugned” bill as ultra vires and unconstitutional and of no legal effect.

Advocate Muhammad Shafay Munir on Tuesday filed a constitutional petition under Article 184(3) to “safeguard the Constitution and independence of (the) judiciary”, and cited the secretary Ministry of Law and Justice, the secretary Senate, and the secretary National Assembly as respondents.

Meanwhile, another citizen Saeed Aftab Khokhar has submitted a petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in this regard.

Joint parliament session adopts Supreme Court amendment bill

The joint sitting of Parliament on April 10 passed the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill, 2023, with amendments days after President Dr Arif Alvi returned the bill seeking to curtail the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP)’s powers to initiate suo motu and constitute benches amid protest by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) senators.

The petition stated that during the proceedings of the Supreme Court’s suo motu hearing regarding the delay in Punjab polls, “the federal government along with (the) PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement) started a vicious campaign in (the) general public and media to undermine the reputation and credibility of [the] judges” of the SC, “especially” the CJP.

It further stated that with its “agenda”, the incumbent government through the Ministry of Law proposed a bill for the curtailment of powers of the CJP in a “hurry without adopting the due course of law and in violation of Article 70 (1 and 4) of the Constitution”.

It stated that the bill was presented to the president for his assent but was sent for reconsideration by Alvi because it “was against the above-said Constitutional provisions”.

“Again, without taking into consideration and discussions on the objections by the president on (the) bill in question, the Parliament again in a hurry and without adopting the due course of law, beyond (the) powers of the Parliament, passed the bill on April 10 in a joint session”.

The petition contended that the Constitution had made it clear that the “independence of the judiciary” should be fully secured and the “Parliament has no powers to pass such an Act to curtail the powers of (the) Supreme Court or its chief justice or the judges”.

It maintained that the president had “highlighted the aspects” that required reconsideration, but the Parliament failed to reconsider the same and passed the bill beyond its powers.

The petition said that Article 191 of the Constitution stated that “subject to the Constitution and law, the Supreme Court may make rules regulating the practice and procedure of the court”. The powers to make SC rules were “expressly entrusted” to the court itself and not to the Parliament, it added.

It noted that according to the Fourth Schedule given under Article 70(4) of the Federal Legislative List’s item No 55, the petition maintained that the Parliament only possessed powers in relation to the enlargement of the jurisdiction of the apex court, but not to curtail its powers.

According to the petition, the SC while exercising powers under Article 191 of the Constitution, has already framed rules regulating its procedure and practice, and “Order X1 of Supreme Court Rules 1980 provides Constitution of Benches, and this power lies with the” CJP and these powers could not be curtailed through an act of the Parliament being beyond its jurisdiction and areas of enactment.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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Humayun Apr 12, 2023 06:28am
CJ should assign this case to the bench headed by Honorable Justice Qazi Faez Issa.
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Love Your Country Apr 12, 2023 10:04am
Interesting times ahead
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Love Your Country Apr 12, 2023 11:52am
@Humayun, absolutely no chance
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Tulukan Mairandi Apr 12, 2023 12:07pm
Great. Now Apex Court which are run by Imran Niazi lackeys will strike it down.
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