Heading three-member bench, Justice Bandial asks AGP ‘You always keep us reminding to form full bench. Is this not the SC bench we are sitting in?’ n Why do govt and other parties not resolve issues themselves? n CJP asks AGP to bring finance, defence secretaries on April 3, saying ‘we can call the armed forces if you are unable to arrange resources for elections’ n Four-member bench stands dissolved after recusal of Justice Jamal.
ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court of Pakistan Friday rejected the request of Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) seeking constitution of full court for hearing the petitions regarding delay in general elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
While arguing many times, AGP Mansoor Usman Awan requested the Chief Justice to constitute a full court. However, Justice Bandial told him that they have heard you and you keep us reminding to constitute the full bench. The CJP asked from him that is this not the bench of the Supreme Court. He stated that the judges are busy in various SC Branch Registries and due to largest bench, the litigants suffer.
A four-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, and comprising Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail assembled for hearing of petitions of Punjab and KP assemblies Speakers and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
The Chief Justice asked the attorney general to bring Secretaries Ministries of Finance and Defence on April 3. He asked that why do not the government and the other side resolve the issue themselves. “If you don’t resolve it then we will do. Since Monday last we have been saying to do it yourself,” he added and questioned what is the magic in the date of October 8?
When the hearing started yesterday, Justice Jamal stated that he wanted to recuse from bench. As he began expressing his view, the judges rose and went to their chambers, and thus the four-member bench was dissolved.
On Thursday last, Justice Amin-ud-Din had recused from the bench as he along with Justice Qaiz Faez Isa had delivered a judgment on chief justice suo moto power, and the power to constitute SC benches.
At 2pm, a three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, and comprising Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan, and Justice Munib Akhtar heard the PTI petitions. During the hearing, the CJP asked from the AGP when the elections will be held in the shortest minimum time. He said, “We want you (government) to give commitments,” adding that after the commitments code of conduct will be framed and if that is not fulfilled then there will be repercussions of it.
Justice Bandial further said that if you were unable to arrange the resources, then they would find the way and will call the relevant authority to arrange the resources. He added, “We can call the armed forces.”
The attorney general earlier informed that the government is facing deficit in public account and the capital account Rs1.45 trillion. He said in order to receive the next tranche of an already agreed loan from IMF, the government introduced a money bill in parliament aimed at raising Rs 170 billion in taxes by June 2023.
Justice Muneeb inquired that how much amount is in the consolidated funds. When the AGP was hesitant to tell the exact amount then Justice Muneeb said that they would summon the Governor State Bank of Pakistan and will inquire from him about the amount.
The Chief Justice said that they are not economists or financial experts. However, what is the magic that the deficit will be cleared by October. The AGP replied that these figures are till June 30, adding hopefully soon the Pakistan will receive the next tranche and will receive the funds from other friendly countries.
During the proceeding, the Chief Justice said, “Constitution is very important for us; for this nation; for this society; it holds the federation together; it keeps alive democracy; today when you go to Parliament you find people addressing the Parliament who were till yesterday in captivity, imprisoned, declared traitors; they are now talking over there, and being respected; because they are representatives of the people.”
Justice Jamal’s note stated, “I also wanted to express my view, however, the Chief Justice and other members of the Bench rose, therefore, I was unable to do so. Subsequently, I remained in my chamber for a reasonable time, but received no information from the Chief Justice regarding further proceedings into the matter. When I reached home later the same day, I received an Order dated 30.03.2023 from the Chief Justice for my signatures as a member of the Bench.”
He added, “Some of us (Justice Bandial, Justice Ijaz and Justice Munib) respectfully disagree and consider that the hearing and further proceedings in the present petition remain unaffected by any observation made in the aforesaid Order.”
Justice Jamal further wrote, admittedly, the Order was not dictated in open court, instead it was dictated in my absence and without contacting me for participation in the deliberations. I felt that the three learned members of the Bench, for reasons best known to them, opted not to involve me in the consultation.
“Besides, this petition is the outcome of the previous proceedings which were dismissed by two members of the bench (Justice Yahya and Justice Athar) through their respective short orders, followed by myself and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah.” “In this behalf, we issued our detailed reasons on 27.03.2023. Right from the first date of hearing of the present matter, I wanted this Bench to resolve the controversy of the Order dated 01.03.2023 and its Order of the Court, which has still not been issued till date, as it is of great significance to the present matter.
He further wrote; “No heed was paid to this issue, despite my raising it repeatedly. The learned Attorney-General, members of the legal fraternity, and learned counsel for the political parties also requested for resolution of this issue, but received no response from the other members of the Bench.”