Govt moves Supreme Court for full bench


ISLAMABAD, May 06 (DNA): The coalition government has moved Supreme
Court of Pakistan for the formation of a full court bench to hear the
case related to Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act, 2023, aimed
at curtailing the suo motu powers of office of the chief justice of
Pakistan (CJP).

According to details, the federal government filed a separate petition
in Supreme Court for the formation of a full court bench to hear the
case related to bill curtailing suo motu powers of office of the chief
justice of Pakistan (CJP).

In the petition, the government has requested that the petitions be
heard by all the judges of the court due to the paramount importance of
the constitutional questions involved and the fact that it is a case of
first impression.

“The Parliament passed the Supreme Court (Practice & Procedure) Bill,
2023, in exercise of its powers under the Constitution while fully
cognisant of the principles of separation of power and constitutional
command to secure independence of the judiciary,” the petition stated.

It said that the full court is the most appropriate forum to hear the
petitions, as the Supreme Court Rules, 1980, have vested the power of
formation of benches upon senior judges of the Supreme Court.

The petition stated that it is all the more reasonable and appropriate
that the issue be resolved by the full court as it concern every judge
of the honourable court and the people of Pakistan.

According to the petition, the respondents hoped the full court will be
able to resolve the issue in the fairest and most transparent manner
possible, in the interest of upholding the rule of law and the
independence of the judiciary.

An eight-member larger bench of the apex court headed by CJP Umar Ata
Bandial and comprising Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar,
Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar,
Justice Ayesha A Malik, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Justice
Shahid Waheed is hearing the petitions against the controversial bill.

In the last hearing, the Supreme Court sought the record of
parliamentary proceedings regarding the Supreme Court (Practice and
Procedure) Act, 2023.

At the outset of the hearing, CJP Bandial remarked that the case they
are hearing is of a ‘different’ type. We have constituted a larger bench
to hear the matter in a transparent way, the CJP added.

CJP further said that the independent judiciary and federation are
important components of the constitution. “Independence of judiciary is
a basic right.”

The SC summoned Parliamentary record regarding the Supreme Court
(Practice and Procedure Bill) along with the minutes of the discussion
in the standing committee.

SC also directed all parties in the case to submit written arguments in
the case. The hearing has been adjourned till May 8.

The passed bill – the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill, 2023
– aims at giving the power of taking suo motu notice to a three-member
committee comprising senior judges including Chief Justice. It also aims
to have transparent proceedings in the apex court and includes the right
to appeal.

Regarding the constitution of benches, the bill states that every cause,
matter or appeal before the apex court would be heard and disposed of by
a bench constituted by a committee comprising the CJP and the two
senior-most judges. It added that the decisions of the committee would
be taken by a majority.

Regarding exercising the apex court’s original jurisdiction, the bill
said that any matter invoking the use of Article 184(3) would first be
placed before the above mentioned committee.

The bill says that if the committee is of the view that a question of
public importance with reference to the 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.

The bill additionally said that a party would have the right to appoint
its counsel of choice for filing a review application under Article 188
of the Constitution.