Aaj English TV

Sunday, June 16, 2024  
09 Dhul-Hijjah 1445  

National Assembly reduces Chief Justice of Pakistan’s powers to take up cases

Changes made six months before new top judge to be sworn in
File photo.
File photo.

The National Assembly has passed the Supreme Court Practice and Procedure bill 2023 that cuts the Chief Justice of Pakistan’s powers to form benches and take suo motu notices. It has done this six months before a new top judge will be sworn in.

This is a significant move as Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial achieves superannuation and leaves the Supreme Court of Pakistan on September 16. Justice Qazi Faez Isa will be sworn in as chief justice of Pakistan on September 17.

Suo motu is a Latin term for “on its own motion” and means that the top judge could take up any case of their choice.

The bill was passed by a simple majority after the Pakistan People’s Party agreed to withdraw its proposed amendments or changes.

The bill had been introduced on Tuesday after being approved by the cabinet. It had been sent for further deliberation to a standing committee right after being tabled.

Answering a question in the assembly, Law Minister Azam Tarrar said that making changes such as those proposed in this bill do not require a constitutional amendment as Article 191 of the constitution gives the parliament the right to amend rules and procedures. He also added that the Supreme Court is operating under rules made in 1980 under the constitution.

Speaking before the bill was passed PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said termed the bill as a way to ‘set things right’ and even told the law minister that the bill’s measures were ‘too little too late’.

Salient features of the bill

  • Constitution of benches: Every cause, appeal or matter before the Supreme Court shall be heard and disposed of via bench, which will be constituted by a committee comprising the chief justice of Pakistan and two senior most judges in order of seniority. The decision of the committee shall be by the majority.
  • Exercise of original jurisdiction by Supreme Court: Any matter invoking exercise of original jurisdiction under clause 3 of Article 184 of the Constitution (any matter on which suo motu notice or the original jurisdiction of Supreme Court) shall be first placed before the committee constituted under Section 2 for examination and if 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. (At least to the three-member bench, it can also increase)
  • Intra-court appeal: Intra-court appeal is provided in Section 4 and it shall lie within 30 days from the final order of a bench of the Supreme Court that exercises jurisdiction under Clause 3 to a larger bench of the Supreme Court and such appeal shall for hearing be fixed within a period of not exceeding 14 days.
  • Right to appoint counsel of choice
  • Application for fixation of urgent matters

For the latest news, follow us on Twitter @Aaj_Urdu. We are also on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

Supreme Court

National Assembly