The Senate on Thursday passed the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill, 2023, which would limit the discretionary powers of the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take Suo motu notice.
The bill moved through the Senate today after it was approved by the National Assembly a day earlier. At least 60 senators approved the bill, while 19 lawmakers voted against it.
Before the final vote on the bill, a motion was made to refer the bill to the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice for further consideration, but it was rejected. After that, a proposal was submitted for the accelerated approval of the draft law, which was accepted by the majority of the legislators.
As the bill was tabled in the Senate, Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar explained that the proposed law provides for the right to appeal in Suo motu cases and to appoint another counsel for the appeal.
Leader of the opposition Dr. Shahzad Waseem, however, condemned the bill, saying the government was unable to ensure the smooth distribution of wheat and planned to frame the rules for the Supreme Court.
“Making rules for the Supreme Court is an indirect attack (on the judiciary. You are trying to create a division in the Supreme Court,” Dr. Waseem said. He added that the bill did not talk about the right of appeal before and later in the standing committee had the right of appeal even in previous cases.
“Give the bill to the committee and let it bring changes,” the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) senator said, calling for a vote on the matter.
While the opposition leader was delivering his speech, PTI senators staged a protest in the upper house.
When given a chance to speak, PTI Senator Ali Zafar said he had two objections to the bill.
“In 184/3, only the constitution could be changed. If you approve the laws in this way, they will be deleted within 15 days,” the senator warned. He added that the right to appeal can only be given through the Constitution.
The Senate Standing Committee had sent the constitutional amendment on the right of appeal. He also warned that by reopening past cases, the Supreme Court would have to rehear thousands of cases said by the zafar.
“There is also a difference between lawyers in this bill. Such changes cannot be made without amending the constitution,” He added that some of the changes proposed in the bill are illegal. Said Zafar.
The senator also objected to the timing of the bill as a suo motu election was underway in the Supreme Court.
NA passed law to limit Suo motu powers of CJP
A day earlier, in a bid to strengthen checks and balances in the higher judiciary, the National Assembly passed the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill, 2023, which was introduced to curtail the discretionary powers of the Chief Justice of Pakistan in taking Suo motu notices.
The bill was passed hours after the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice gave its approval.
The bill was introduced by the government after two Supreme Court judges – Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail raised questions about the powers of the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), saying the apex court “cannot depend on loners”. the decision of one man, the Chief Justice”.