Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial on Tuesday observed that an independent judiciary is a major part of the constitution.
He made the remarks as the eight-judge larger bench of the Supreme Court heard a series of pleas against the bill, which has since become an Act of Parliament, which seeks to curtail the CJP’s powers.
The bench included CJP Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Ayesha Malik, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi, and Justice Shahid Waheed.
These three petitions were filed under Article 184(3) of the Constitution by Advocate Muhammad Shafay Munir, Raja Amer Khan, Chaudhry Ghulam Hussain, and others.
The draft law proposes to remove the individual power of the Chief Justice to initiate suo motu proceedings and unilaterally form benches and entrust them to a panel composed of the Supreme Court and the two most senior judges of the ÚS. It also calls for the right to appeal against suo motu decisions.
The lawsuit against the bill was frozen as a precaution by the court even before it came into effect last month. Barrister Salahuddin spoke on behalf of PML-N while Farooq Naek spoke on behalf of PPP. Meanwhile, Hassan Raza Pasha represented the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC).
At the start of the hearing, the CJP said that the previous court order was interim in nature. He said democracy is a key part of the country’s constitution.
An independent judiciary and the Center are also important elements of the constitution, he said, adding that the case is about the independence of the judiciary.
CJP Bandial said the court expected serious arguments from the parties in the case, adding that the large bench would have to provide excellent assistance.
He said that there is no change in the fact that the main feature of the Constitution is an independent judiciary. It is alleged that for the first time, a fundamental component of the Constitution has been violated through the Act.
The court then sought detailed answers from all sides of the case on May 8. The court also sought the parliamentary minutes of the bill and the arguments in the relevant standing committee.
During the hearing, the PBC lawyer argued that the board has always fought for the rule of law and the judiciary. It would be appropriate if a full court was set up to hear the case, he said, adding that no one would object to the bench, which includes seven senior judges.
He also pointed out that several appeal petitions have been filed against one of the members of the current SC bench in the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) and called for the removal of Justice Naqvi from that bench.
Justice Bandial observed that setting up a full court was the prerogative of the CJP. He further said that a reference cannot prevent a judge from working.
A judge cannot be suspended until the Supreme Judicial Council gives its opinion, the CJP said, adding that the court had taken the same decision during the proceedings against Justice Qazi Faez Isa.
From time to time there are complaints against judges, including me, the CJP said, adding that political matters were polluting the environment of the apex court.
Political people want favorable decisions, not justice, he said. He noted that during the hearing of the case regarding the conduct of elections in the country, a demand for the establishment of a full court was also raised.
He observed that all institutions of the country are required to implement the directives issued by the apex court. PBC’s request for a full trial was subsequently denied.
The court also rejected the request of the chief prosecutor to cancel the preliminary measure from the law.
First, explain to us what the law is and why it was made, the CJP said. The meeting was then adjourned to May 8 (Monday). Conflict of interests Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Home Affairs Attaullah Tarar said the coalition government wants the case to be presided over by seven senior judges of the Supreme Court.
Speaking to the media alongside SAPM Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan in Islamabad today, Tarar termed the inclusion of the CJP on the bench as a conflict of interest.
He said that during today’s hearing, the Bar Council raised objections to Justice Naqvi’s inclusion in the panel, while the Attorney General also highlighted references against the judge. Tarar said the apex court had sought a detailed reply in this regard.
Bill becomes law the SC’s original jurisdiction and allows it to assume jurisdiction over matters of public importance with reference to the enforcement of any of the fundamental rights of Pakistani citizens.
The Supreme Court Practice and Procedure Bill 2023 aimed to strip the CJP of the power to take suo motu notices as an individual.
The bill was initially passed by both houses of parliament in March and sent to the president for his assent. However, the president returned it, saying that the proposed law goes outside the competence of the parliament.
Meanwhile, the top court while hearing three petitions challenging the bill in an interim injunction on April 13 barred the government from pushing through the bill, saying the move would prevent imminent danger which is irremediable once it became an Act of Parliament.
The moment a bill receives the assent of the President or is deemed to have been given, then from that moment until further orders the act which arises shall have no effect, shall have no effect, he said interim order issued by an eight-judge panel.
The ruling coalition government quickly rejected the Supreme Court’s decision, and on April 19 the president again refused to give his assent and sent the bill back to parliament.
Despite this, the law technically became an Act of Parliament under Article 75(2) of the Constitution on 21 April, and despite a court order to stay, the implementation of the law, the Secretariat of the National Assembly formally requested the Printing Company of Pakistan (PCP) to publish it in the Official Gazette.
Article 75 of the Constitution says that when the President returns a bill to Parliament, it will be discussed again in a joint session. If it is reapproved, with or without amendments, by a majority vote of the members of both houses,
it is again referred to the President for their assent. If the bill was not signed by the president within 10 days, their assent would be deemed granted.
According to the legislation, a three-member panel consisting of the CJP and two senior-most judges of the supreme court will decide whether to accept a suo motu case. Earlier it was exclusively the prerogative of the Chief Justice.
The Act also provides that every cause, matter, or appeal to the Supreme Court shall be heard and heard by a Bench, which shall be constituted by a Committee consisting of the Chief Justice and two Chief Justices.
The legislation also includes the right to file an appeal within 30 days of a suo motu ruling and that no case involving constitutional interpretation will have a panel of fewer than five judges.
The bill would allow former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and other members of parliament disqualified by the Supreme Court on suo motu powers (such as Jahangir Tareen) to appeal their disqualification within 30 days of the bill’s passage.
The first meeting was suspended before it became law Speaking to reporters outside the Islamabad High Court, PPP leader, and lawyer Farooq H. Naek said it was the first time an act was suspended before it was carried out.
Lawyer Farooq H. Naek interacts with the media on Tuesday, The Constitution allows Parliament to make laws regarding the procedure of the Supreme Court, Naek continued. He added that if the bill does not affect the general public.