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ISLAMABAD: The parliament on Wednesday attracted praise from the Supreme Court for the passage of the Practice and Procedure Act, 2023, a controversial law. The 22-page detailed verdict is authored by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa. According to him, the law has facilitated access to justice.

Justice Isa appeared to have given a clean chit to the very existence of this law with one single utterance: “There appears to be nothing unconstitutional, illegal or objectionable in the act on a plain reading of these provisions”.

“We have very carefully considered each and every provision of the act, and are of the view that it has facilitated access to justice, instilled transparency, made the realisation of Fundamental Rights more effective and the Supreme Court more independent,” he observed.

SC adjourns hearing of petitions challenging Practice & Procedure Act 2023 till tomorrow

The office of the chief justice has also been strengthened as there is an element of continuity when consultation takes place with the two most senior judges, he said, adding the measures taken in the act ensure judicial independence, and the Supreme Court has been made to better serve the people.

It was crucially observed that the constitution does not bestow unlimited jurisdiction on the Supreme Court, let alone on its chief justice and goes on to sketch an outline of what are the powers and limitation of powers of the top court and its judges, he added.

“The Supreme Court comprises of the chief justice and all the judges of the Supreme Court. The constitution does not grant to the chief justice power to decide cases unilaterally and arbitrarily. The chief justice cannot substitute his wisdom with that of the Constitution. Nor can the chief justice’s opinion prevail over that of the judges of the Supreme Court,” he added.

Regarding the term “master of the roster”, which was first used by top court’s incumbent judge Justice Munib Akhtar, Chief Justice Isa observed that the term finds no mention in the constitution, any law or even in the rules.

“The word master is offensive in a constitutional dispensation founded on democracy. Master also connotes servitude, the extreme form of which is slavery which is prohibited by the Constitution,” said the verdict.

It is further observed that the history stands witness to the fact that when power is concentrated in an individual, disastrous consequences invariably follow.

“Irreparable damage is caused to the judiciary and to the people of Pakistan when the legitimacy, integrity and credibility of the judiciary is undermined. If the people lose their trust in the judiciary, it will render decisions made by it mere words on paper, without credibility and moral authority. The surest way for this to happen is when cases are not decided in accordance with the constitution,” he added.

Interventions should be restricted to only when Parliament enacts legislation, which is demonstrably unconstitutional. In respect of the act this has not been demonstrated, observed chief justice.

Regarding the legislative powers pertaining to the working of Supreme Court, the top court observed that the Constitution empowers the parliament to legislate with regard to making the practices and procedures of the Supreme Court as it specifically stipulated in Article 191.

“Parliament enacted the Act which does not in any manner infringe any of the Fundamental Rights, rather facilitates their enforcement. The act also grants an appeal to one who is aggrieved by a decision of the Supreme Court which is passed in exercise of the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.”

The judgement observed that a larger bench of the Supreme Court has been conferred with this additional jurisdiction of appeal which fully accords with the Constitution.

“The act does not in any manner violate the Constitution, it does not undermine the Supreme Court, nor does it compromise the independence of the judiciary.”

The judgement concluded that since the court found the act to be fully compliant with the Constitution, there was no need to consider the other points raised by the petitioners because they will have no bearing on the outcome. “This Court does not generally dilate upon academic propositions,” observed the chief justice.

The chief justice ended the judgement by stating that this matter could have been decided in the first hearing.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

Comments

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KU Dec 28, 2023 09:08am
The statement, "made fundamental rights more effective" is a cruel joke on the people of Pakistan. The Justice should look-see the state of fundamental rights in courts, police, political environment and free persecution of individuals who believe in truth and freedom of speech. But one thing is for sure, our constitution has the ability to be interpreted in any way the rulers want it to their advantage. The present and future of the country is melting away by a handful of pseudo intellectuals.
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Parvez Dec 28, 2023 07:29pm
If what the CJ says is true.....why is it not visible ?
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