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Print Print 2023-04-14

Govt-SC standoff worsens amid economic impasse

  • Ruling coalition rejects apex court’s 8-member ‘controversial’ bench
Published April 14, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The ruling coalition Thursday rejected the Supreme Court’s eight-member ‘controversial’ bench constituted to hear petitions challenging the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023, and termed the move as an attack on the Parliament and its authority, ‘which will be resisted strongly’.

Minister for Law Azam Nazeer Tarar together with leaders of the ruling coalition, including PPP’s Qamar Zaman Kaira, MQM-P’s Aminul Haque, JUI-F’s Kamran Murtaza, ANP’s Mian Iftikhar Hussain, National Party’s Tahir Bizenjo, Balochistan National Party (Mengal) leader Hashim Notezai, Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) leader Shafiq Tareen, and Balochistan Awami Party (BAP)’s Israr Tareen expressed their reservations in a joint news conference amid deepening rifts between the coalition government and the superior judiciary.

Tarar said that constituting the bench even when the President has not signed the bill and legislation is underway in the parliament is not acceptable at all.

8-member bench to hear pleas against SC bill

He said that the right of legislation which rests with the parliament will not be allowed to be compromised at all, adding that all the coalition parties outrightly reject the bench.

He demanded the formation of full court to hear the case so that collective wisdom should prevail. He said the coalition parties, bar councils from across the country and legal fraternity have repeatedly demanded to form a full court bench to hear the case.

He said that the current situation is “very alarming”, alleging that a “selective bench” has been formed in disregard of the rules. He maintained that a “conflict of interest” exists as the case involved the Chief Justice’s own powers, and all propriety rules prohibited Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial from leading the bench.

Referring to Justices Qazi Faez Isa and Sardar Tariq Masood, the senior-most judges after the chief justice, the minister said that the two senior judges have not been included in the bench that has been made after a “pick and choose” policy.

He also expressed concern about the lack of representation from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan among the judges in the bench. He said that all provincial bar councils have unanimously expressed their disagreement with the current bench and that this matter should not be made a matter of ego.

He said that parliament is not taking on any institution in the current situation, adding that Parliament has the authority to legislate for the betterment of the people. “We are aware of our rights and how to safeguard them. This right cannot be taken away from us by preventing parliament from legislating,” he added. To a question about recalling of the registrar of the Supreme Court, he said that the government knows how to establish its writ with the power of the pen.

PPP’s Qamar Zaman Kaira expressed his surprise that the matter had been taken up by the court even though the President had not given his final opinion on the bill.

He said confrontation among institutions is pushing the country towards a dangerous and complicated situation.“I don’t understand the logic behind this. Are they trying to prevent parliament from exercising its powers? We will not accept this,” he said, urging the chief justice to dissolve the bench and constitute a full court to hear the case.

Senator Kamran Murtaza of JUI-F, rejecting the composition of the bench, said constituting eight-member bench is tantamount to usurping the right of appeal. He said the inclusion of junior judges in the bench is also not appropriate which will harm the sanctity and prestige of the Supreme Court.

He said there should be some criteria for the fixation of the cases. He said we outrightly reject the formation of this bench.

ANP’s Iftikhar Hussain cast aspersions on the formation of the bench and the subsequent return of the bill by the president. He questioned whether it was a sin to remove a government through a constitutional process, adding that the legislature advocated for the language of affection and respect. He warned against attempts to undermine parliament’s authority.

Aminul Haque of MQM-P expressed his party’s support to the government, saying that a full court should be formed so that the country could benefit from “collective wisdom”. “We want the parliament to be able to use its powers, but all pillars of balance must be equal under all circumstances,” he added.

Prior to their appearance at a press conference, the ruling coalition released a joint statement earlier today condemning the composition of the bench, describing it as “controversial” and “unacceptable.”

Through a joint statement also, the ruling alliance rejected the eight-member bench, calling it a “controversial” and an “attack” on the parliament and its authority which it vowed to be resisted strongly.

“The ruling parties rejected the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s move to set up a ‘controversial’ bench for hearing The Supreme Court Procedure and Practice Bill, 2023, before the legislative process is completed and coming into effect,” read the statement, adding that such a move has never been seen before in the history of Pakistan and the court.

“It is tantamount to destroying the credibility of the apex court and making the constitutional process of justice meaningless. This bench itself is a testimony to the rift within the Supreme Court, which once again testified the earlier stated position of the ruling parties,” the statement further read.

It added that in their decisions, the honourable judges of the Supreme Court have openly expressed their objections to “one-man-show”, “biased and dictatorial” behaviour with regard to the formation of special benches.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

Comments

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John Apr 14, 2023 08:01am
Pakistan is an unfortunate country where so called "law makers" are "Law breakers!" Compromised leaders have become clear and present danger to the state!
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Joe Apr 14, 2023 08:04am
What a pity! Compromised leaders are ignorant of the constitution!
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Muhammad Ali Apr 14, 2023 09:22am
Fake politicians have their own agendas, they damn care about country & public. We are the worst cursed nation on the globe who have fake leaders who just want to be in power at any cost.
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Tulukan Mairandi Apr 14, 2023 10:03am
Everyone is fighting each other for power. Supreme Court, Election Commission, "Establishment", government, opposition. No wonder the economy is in a mess and the country is spiraling into total destruction and balkanization.
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KU Apr 14, 2023 12:25pm
The SCP is dealing with seasoned crooks who now have the support of everyone for mutual benefit. While many Asian countries are hacking out plans for future development and surviving the world economic changes, our politicians & Co., are busy hacking out plans on how to ensure their rule and distribute spoils of their victory.
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