Usman Mansoor Awan, the attorney general of Pakistan, and the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) petitioned on Monday that the Supreme Court (SC) convene a full bench to hear the set of appeals challenging the rule restricting the chief justice’s ability to convene benches or launch suo motu proceedings.
The arguments that were previously heard are now considered by an eight-judge panel. The Supreme Court of Pakistan, which is made up of Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, Justices Ijazul Ahsan, Munib Akhtar, Sayyad Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Ayesha Malik, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi, and Justice Shahid Waheed, had resumed hearing the arguments made in opposition to a bill that would limit the authority of the chief justice.
The Supreme Court (Practise and Procedure) Bill 2023, which the high court adopted on April 13, was restricted from being implemented by a stay order that CJP Bandial rejected during the previous hearing.
“Our order of stay from the last hearing is in effect. The Chief Justice had stated that the law pertaining to Supreme Court norms was quite clear.
The hearing today
Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan asked the bench to set up a full court to hear the pleas at the beginning of the session. Salahuddin Ahmed, a lawyer for the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), also let the court know that his client had submitted a similar request for the creation of a full court.
The bench questioned the government’s desire for a full court during the hearing.
The chief justice observed that the court needed to establish going forward under what conditions the bench may order the formation of a full court.
“The current issue was not a case of constitutional amendment,” CJP Bandial said.
In addition to any presidential references to Justice Faez Isa and Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, he instructed the parties to provide instances of cases.
The top court noted that the matter could not be resolved today because it needed further support and arguments from other parties and adjourned the hearing for three weeks. He said that several of the bench’s members were leaving.
Hearing was postponed for thus long.
The bench further instructed the solicitors to state if they had confidence in the existing bench, and if so, to resolve this issue first.
CJP Bandial asked the AGP earlier, when he began to speak, if he had submitted the record of the National Assembly’s proceedings.
In response to the inquiry, the AGP stated that they anticipated receiving the documents by tomorrow (Tuesday).In touch with the office of the National Assembly Speaker about this.
AGP Awan claimed that the court had ruled that the Constitution’s fundamental framework was in place. The creation of courts is a topic covered by the judicial reform law.
He said that the Supreme Court (Practise and Procedures) Act, 2023, might be changed by the court as a whole and that the issues decided in the bill were administrative in nature.
He asserted that cases involving the norms and independence of the judiciary should also be heard by the entire court.
Furthermore, judges who are not hearing the case will also be directly affected by the statute.
Justice Ahsan then observed that the issue was not the modifications but rather whether or not there were such legislative powers.
Justice Naqvi meanwhile enquired as to whether similar laws to the proposed measure had ever existed before.
Up until 1973, the AGP insisted that the president had to provide his or her consent in order to create regulations.
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Justice Mazhar noted that this case was described as the “first of its kind” in the government’s argument.
the order of events
On March 28, the law intended to rein in the chief justice’s sweeping authority was approved by parliament. The chief justice’s authority to form benches on his own and to accept suo motu notifications is constrained by the law.
Instead, it states that a three-member committee made up of the chief justice and two senior most judges will be given this authority.
On April 8, however, President Arif Alvi handed the legislation back to the legislature without his approval. The legislation was then enacted once more by parliamentarians on April 10 in a combined session, and it was once again delivered to the president.
A measure voted by a joint session of the Senate and National Assembly must get the president’s approval within ten days, according to national law. But beyond that time limit, which in this case was April 20, the measure immediately becomes a law and goes into force even if the president doesn’t sign it.
Three applications were filed before the highest court to stop the bill from taking effect, and today’s hearing will be the third.