Bill tabled in NA to limit CJP’s suo motu power

House adopts resolution over judiciary’s ‘interference’ into ECP matters

ISLAMABAD    -    The National Assem­bly yesterday adopted an unusual resolution which deems the judi­ciary’s “unreasonable interference in political matters as the cause of political instability”.

The resolution, moved by Information Minister Maryam Au­rangzeb, supported the stance of the four dis­senting judges in the supreme court’s March 1 order regarding Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab assemblies elec­tions. It demanded its implementation and ex­pected that the higher judiciary would refrain from interfering in po­litical and administra­tive matters.

The unanimously ap­proved resolution also states that the top elec­toral body (ECP) was an independent institution which was obligated to hold fair and free elec­tions and its constitu­tional role should not be interfered in.

About holding sep­arate elections in the two provinces, the res­olution said that the polls for all assemblies should take place at the same time under care­taker governments to ensure actual politi­cal stability. It said that matters requiring col­lective wisdom should be listened to by a full court bench of the Su­preme Court.

Later, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar ta­bled the Supreme Court (Practice and Proce­dure) Bill, 2023, appar­ently in a bid to limit the discretionary powers to take suo motu notice by Pakistan's top judge.

The development came a day after two Supreme Court judges - Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail - raised questions over the powers of the CJP, saying the apex court “cannot be dependent on the soli­tary decision of one man, the Chief Justice”.

In his speech on the floor of the house during the NA session, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also sought parliamentary action in this regard, term­ing the dissenting note “a ray of hope”.

Later, Speaker National Assembly Raja Pervez Ashraf, on the request of lawmakers, referred the bill to the concerned committee with the in­structions to quickly discuss its clauses. The bill is aimed to provide any matter invoking exercise of original jurisdiction in case of suo moto notice under clause 3 of Article 184 of the Constitution will be first placed before a committee compris­ing Chief Justice of Pakistan and two other senior most Judges of the Supreme Court in order of se­niority. The bill, containing five clauses moved by Minister for Law Azam Nazir Tarar, was also ap­proved by the federal cabinet.

The law minister, sharing the salient features of the bill, said that the Section-2 of the bill regard­ing constitution of benches says that every cause, appeal, or matter before the Supreme Court shall be heard and disposed of by a bench constituted by the committee comprising Chief Justice of Pa­kistan and two senior most judges, in order of se­niority. About Section-3 of the bill, he says that any matter invoking exercise of original jurisdic­tion under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution shall be first placed before the Committee constituted under section 2 for examination and if the com­mittee is of the view that a question of public im­portance with reference to enforcement of any of the fundamental rights conferred by 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.

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