SC dismisses curative review petitions against Justice Isa

ISLAMABAD   -  Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Umar Ata Bandial Friday allowed the federal government’s plea to withdraw curative review petitions filed against the Supreme Court judgment to quash the Presidential Reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa and abate the proceeding before Supreme Judicial Council.

A 10-member bench of the apex court, by a majority of 6-4 on 26- 04-2021, had allowed the review petitions filed by Justice Qazi Faez Isa and others against its decision dated 19.06.2020. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government 0n 25-05-2021 had filed the curative review petitions against the Supreme Court judgment dated 26-04-2021. However, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) led government on March 31, 2023 submitted a plea to withdraw the curative review. Justice Bandial had heard Attorney General for Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan argument for withdrawal of the curative review, and announced its judgment on Friday. It said that a second review is barred by the law and that the court alone is empowered, if so inclined, to re-visit, review or set aside any of its previous judgments/ orders. It further said that a study of the Indian law on curative review reveals that it is a remedy altogether distinct from the suo motu exercise of jurisdiction by the court.

The judgement said, “Whereas curative review has no standing in our jurisprudence, and the availability of suo motu review has long been accepted by the Court, albeit in the limited circumstances of doing complete justice under Article 184(3) and/ or Article 188 read with Article 187 of the Constitution.” “It is of course clear that both types of judicial interventions, curative review and suo motu review, possess a similar purpose i.e., to correct a fundamental error in a previous judgment/order. However, the key difference, inter alia, between the two jurisdictions lies mainly in their mode and manner of invocation,” maintained the apex court. The judgment said that in the present case, no member of the Bench that delivered the subject judgment (nor any other Judge of the Court) , has so far considered it necessary to re-visit, review or set aside that judgment on the ground that it has had a significant impact on the fundamental rights of citizens; or that it is in the interest of the public good; or that it is per incuriam. It maintained that consequently, in the absence of such a judicial view and the lack of an enabling jurisdiction that allows an aggrieved or concerned party to file a second review, the appellants curative review petitions appear to be not maintainable.

Justice Bandial wrote that the appellants are now seeking the withdrawal of their curative review petitions. This right of the appellants to withdraw their curative review petitions (and generally of parties to withdraw their cases) is acknowledged by the law [ref: Reviews on behalf of Justice (retd) Abdul Ghani Sheikh (PLD 2013 SC 1024]. He further said that exceptions to the said rule exist for instance public interest litigation filed under Article 184(3) of the Constitution cannot be withdrawn except with the permission of the Court [ref: Jurists Foundation Vs. Federal Government (PLD 2020 SC 1) at para 6].

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