Judicial reform bill ‘becomes law’ amid PDM-SC tussle

National Assembly issues notification ‘after completing all stages of approval’ n NA Spokesperson says the Supreme Court Practice and Procedure Bill 2023 ‘is now enforced as law’.

ISLAMABAD    -    The Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill, 2023 yes­terday become act of parliament.

President Arif Alvi had re­turned the bill to the Parliament without signing it. He had re­turned the SC bill for reconsid­eration to the parliament as per the provisions under the Article- 75 of the Constitution.

The bill became act of parlia­ment after passing ten days, fol­lowing the Constitution. The controversial bill was twice passed by the National Assem­bly and Senate. The bill's im­plementation was halted by Su­preme Court's eight-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial. 

However, it was notified as a law yesterday as it was deemed to have been assented to by the president (with effect from April 21, 2023) under Clause (2) of Article 75 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

The bill was approved by the federal cabinet on March 28 and then passed by both houses of parliament — the National As­sembly and the Senate — only for the president to refuse to sign it into law with the observa­tion that it travelled “beyond the competence of parliament”.

However, a joint session of par­liament passed it again on April 10 with certain amendments amid a noisy protest by PTI law­makers. It was then again re­ferred to the president for his assent; however, he once again returned the bill without signing it. According to the Constitution, in case the president refuses to sign the bill a second time after the joint parliament's approval his assent would have been deemed granted within 10 days.

On April 13, the Supreme Court barred the government from en­forcing the law, saying the move would “prevent the imminent ap­prehended danger that is irrepa­rable” as soon as the bill becomes an act of parliament.

“The moment that the bill re­ceives the assent of the presi­dent or it is deemed that such assent has been given, then from that very moment on­wards and till further orders, the act that comes into being shall not have, take or be giv­en any effect nor be acted upon in any manner,” read an interim order issued by the eight-mem­ber apex court bench.

The Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act, 2023 aims to give the power of taking suo motu notice to a three-member committee comprising senior judges, including the chief jus­tice. It also aims to have transpar­ent proceedings in the apex court and includes the right to appeal.

Meanwhile, On Thursday, Pa­kistan Democratic Movement (PDM) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said that Parliament is the country’s most supreme in­stitution and nobody can inter­fere in its authority.

Addressing a news confer­ence, the PDM chief criticised the recent statements of Pa­kistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan. He said Imran Khan should put before the nation the performance of the tenure when he was the prime minister.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman re­jected the possibility of dia­logue with PTI Chairman Im­ran Khan despite the directives issued by the Supreme Court of Pakistan a day earlier.

Fazl, who is also chief of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), further said that there will be no need for any negotiations with PTI leader. 

He went on to say that there is no possibility of any negotia­tions with PTI and the top court as well. The PDM chief also ac­cused the apex court of being partial to the PTI chief stating that if the Supreme Court shows flexibility towards Imran Khan then why can’t they show flexi­bility towards others parties. 

The PDM chief criticised the court of being partial in the matter. “Is this a court or a pan­chayat?” Maulana Fazl said: that the court ‘wants us to agree on a date for the elections’. According to the Constitution, it is manda­tory to hold elections within 90 days, but if Imran Khan agrees on a date, then it is right.” He added, “The court should clarify its position on the matter.”

The JUI-F chief declared that the apex court should abide by the rules set by Parliament. “The authority under which the court is pressuring us is no longer its authority. “Parliament has no confidence in the bench. More than one resolution has been passed and the Attorney General has informed them that we have no confidence in the bench.”

“Should I appear in front of the bench on which there is no confidence?” he demanded.

Discussing the apex court’s role in the election fiasco in the country, the PDM chief called the SC’s behaviour as “oppres­sive”. “We are not ready to ac­cept this oppression of the court. “We call this entire pro­cess a non-political process.” He demanded to know how long people would have to continue being misled and blackmailed by these things.

He further said that there was a time when it was said to talk under the shadow of a gun. To­day, we are being forced to ne­gotiate in front of the hammer.” “We accept justice, we will not accept your hammer,” he said. Addressing a news conference in Islamabad on Thursday, For­eign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari stressed that dialogue amongst the political parties is imperative to achieve political and economic stability.

He said the PPP is making en­deavors to convince the allied parties to take forward this pro­cess. He said our effort is to save the democracy and the federa­tion. The foreign minister how­ever said it will be difficult for the PPP to convince the allied parties for dialogue with the opponents until and unless the court order of holding elections in Punjab on the 14th May is suspended.

He said holding elections in one province at this point in time will impact the results of elections in other three provinc­es. He said we support the idea of holding the elections on one day across the country.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said the coalition parties are stand­ing firm in backing the deci­sions taken at the platform of the parliament.

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