The Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill, 2023, which would restrict the chief justice of Pakistan’s (CJP) discretionary authority to take suo motu notice, was adopted by the Senate on Thursday.
After being adopted by the National Assembly the previous day, the bill was advanced in the Senate today. The bill had support from at least 60 senators, but 19 members abstained.
On March 28, A bill seeking to curtail the suo motu powers of the Chief Justice of Pakistan was tabled in the National Assembly, on Tuesday.
Earlier, the draft of the legislation was passed by the federal Cabinet, suggesting that the decision to take a suo motu shall rest with three senior-most judges of the top court.
The bill, a copy of which is available with The Friday Times, suggests that, “every cause, appeal or matter before the Supreme Court shall be heard and disposed of by a bench constituted by the Committee comprising the Chief Justice of Pakistan and two senior most judges, in order of seniority.”
According to the draft legislation, any matter invoking exercise of original jurisdiction under Article 184 (3) shall be first placed before the committee of three senior-most judges.
“If the Committee is of the view that a question of public importance with reference to enforcement of any of the fundamental rights conferred by Chapter I of Part II of the Constitution is involved, it shall constitute a bench comprising not less than three judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan which may also include the members of the Committee, for adjudication of the matter,” it says.
The legislation also calls for appeals within 30 days of a verdict, which is issued on a suo motu case and suggests that a bench be formed to hear such an appeal within 14 days.
“An appeal shall lie within thirty days from a final order of a bench of the Supreme Court who exercised jurisdiction under clause (3) of Article 184 of the Constitution to a larger bench of the Supreme Court and such appeal shall, for hearing, be fixed within a period not exceeding fourteen days,” reads the draft.
Earlier today, CJP Bandial said that the dissenting SC judges gave an “opinion”, which had nothing to do with the case.
In a scathing take on CJP’s powers, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail released a 27-page order, stating that the suo motu case on the elections in Punjab and KP stands dismissed.