- Chief justice says many cases are already pending in the SC and the court cannot spend too much time on one case
Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa said on Tuesday that the last hearing of a set of petitions against the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023 will take place on October 9, Aaj News reported.
The chief justice stated earlier today that the full court bench, which is now hearing petitions challenging the SC (Practice and Procedure) Act, wants to wrap up the hearings as soon as possible.
The full court bench is headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa and includes Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Aminuddin Khan, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Ayesha A. Malik, Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi, Justice Shahid Waheed and Justice Musarrat Hilali.
Addressing the lawyers gathered, the CJP urged them to talk about points that were relevant to the case, adding that the bench wants to try to conclude the case today.
Justice Isa said many cases are already pending in the SC and the court cannot spend too much time on one case.
The CJP said that if the lawyers wished to make additional arguments, they could submit a detailed response to the court.
Lawyer Ikram Chaudhry began his arguments by reading out the opening paragraph of the Act, saying that the paragraph indicated that the law was being enacted for a “certain or a specific purpose”.
On September 18, the apex court had adjourned the hearing till October 3 after a live session.
The court had also directed the parties’ lawyers to submit their written arguments by September 25.
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, 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 full-court bench lifted the stay order over the implementation of the Act.
It said the chief justice of Pakistan would now form benches after consultation with two senior judges under the SC (Practice and Procedure) Act, 2023.
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.
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.