Top court adjourns hearings on ongoing suo motu notices

Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday ordered to halt proceedings on ongoing suo motu notices until rules for the procedure were made.

A three-member bench, headed by Justice Qazi Faez Isa, issued the verdict at the outset of the hearing of a suo motu notice taken on awarding 20 extra marks to Hafiz-e-Quran.

Two members of the bench, comprising judges from different benches including Justice Isa, remarked that the SC comprised a CJ and other judges adding that the CJP had no jurisdiction to constitute a special bench. “The CJP cannot replace the constitutional wisdom with his sagacity”, the verdict read.

The verdict stated that the constitution had not granted the CJP one-sided and wilful power adding that only the CJP could not perform the collective duty of other SC judges. “The people of Pakistan hold their elected leaders accountable while giving them a mandate”, the judgment read.

Judges remarked that elected representatives were responsible to their electors during elections, bureaucracy was responsible to the government as per the constitution, but the judiciary was not responsible to anyone like those.

The verdict read that the CJP did not have jurisdiction to remove a judge from the bench after it had been constituted adding that one judge could be responsible to the judicial council but the judiciary was not.

Dissenting judge Justice Shahid Waheed remarked that verdict was issued on matters that were not raised before the court.

When apex court was apprised of Pemra’s ban on broadcasting criticism on judges, court remarked that Pemra had banned the broadcasting citing SC’s order but the order did not direct the authority to do so. “Judges of district courts and high courts work more than SC judges”, court remarked.

The court remarked that the Pemra had never banned the broadcasting of criticism on district judges adding that it was unconstitutional and in contravention of the Shariah to not hold judges accountable. “Institutions have to win people’s confidence on their own”, the judgment read.

Later, court adjourned the hearing on ongoing suo motu notices and cases of constitutional importance.

Earlier, the National Assembly (NA) had passed the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023, meant to curtail the powers of the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) to unilaterally take suo motu notice. The bill proposed the right of appeal against the verdict issued in a suo motu notice within 30 days as well as trickling down the power from CJP to other SC judges for the constitution of the bench hearing the case.

The bill came in the wake of the dissenting notes written by two SC judges, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Jamal Ahmad Khan Mandokhail, of a five-member bench hearing the suo motu notice taken by CJP Umar Ata Bandial on holding elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). Apex court had, earlier, ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold elections within ninety days of the dissolution of Punjab (dissolved on Jan 14) and KP (dissolved on Jan 18) assemblies. 

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