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Pakistan

SC to resume hearing on Practice and Procedure Act 2023 tomorrow

  • Proceedings likely to go live again as the apex court tackles controversial law
Published October 2, 2023

The Supreme Court (SC) is set to resume on Tuesday the hearing of a set of petitions challenging the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023, seeking to regulate the powers of the Chief Justice of Pakistan.

The apex court had adjourned the hearing till October 3 in a live session on September 18.

The court had also directed the parties’ lawyers to submit their written arguments by September 25.

In the last session, a 15-member larger bench led by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa heard the petitions against the law curtailing CJP’s powers.

During the session, the Chief Justice made a point that the Practice and Procedure Act 2023, which was passed by parliament, does not take away the chief judge’s authority by giving it to a three-person committee.

Ahead of the previous hearing, the Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan submitted the government’s response in the matter. The response requested the court to reject the petitions against the Supreme Court Practice and Procedure Act.

In its short order, the 15-member full-court bench lifted the stay order over the implementation of the Act.

The bill

The previous Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) led government had enacted the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act, 2023, in a bid to clip the chief justice’s powers to form benches and fix any case before him.

The bill was passed by the parliament earlier this year.

However, an eight-judge bench, including the former CJP Umar Ata Bandial, stayed the bill’s implementation after a set of three petitions challenging it.

The Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill, 2023, serves multiple purposes, including the delegation of suo motu notice-taking authority to a three-member committee composed of senior judges, including the chief justice.

Stay order on implementation of SC Act vacated

The bill aims to ensure transparent proceedings within the apex court and safeguard the right to appeal.

The bill outlines the constitution of benches, specifying that a committee consisting of the chief justice and the two most senior judges will be responsible for constituting benches to handle cases, and decisions will be reached by majority vote.

Regarding cases invoking the apex court’s original jurisdiction under Article 184(3), the bill stipulates that they must first be presented to the aforementioned committee for consideration.

Moreover, the bill grants the committee the authority to form a bench comprising at least three judges from the Supreme Court, which may include members of the committee itself, to adjudicate on matters of significant public importance relating to the enforcement of fundamental rights.

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