Parliament passes 'justice reforms' bill

Committee comprising CJP, two senior most judges will decide about suo motu and benches formation n Appeals can be filed within 30 days n Law minister says bill to make apex court proceedings transparent n Bilawal asks PM to file case against Imran for violating the Constitution.


ISLAMABAD    -    The National Assembly yesterday passed the Supreme Court (Prac­tice and Procedure), Bill 2023, to clip the power of Chief Justice of Paki­stan (CJP) to take suo motu notice in an indi­vidual capacity.

The amendments in the bill state that every cause, matter or appeal before the apex court would be heard and disposed of by a bench constituted by a com­mittee comprising CJP and two senior-most judges. “The decisions of the committee would be taken by a majority," explains the amended bill. It says, "any matter invoking the use of Ar­ticle 184(3) would first be placed before the committee. 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 Chapter I of Part II of the 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.” The committee would compose a bench com­prising no less than five apex court judges for the task.

On appealing any verdict by an apex court bench which ex­ercised Article 184(3)‘s juris­diction, the bill said that the ap­peal will lie within 30 days of the bench’s order to a larger SC bench. It added that the appeal would be fixed for hearing with­in a period not exceeding 14 days. It added that this right of appeal would also extend retro­actively to those aggrieved per­sons against whom an order was made under Article 184(3) prior to the commencement of the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure), Bill 2023, on the condition that the appeal was filed within 30 days of the act’s commencement.

Furthermore, “an application pleading urgency or seeking in­terim relief, filed in a cause, ap­peal or matter, shall be fixed for hearing within 14 days from the date of its filing.”

The bill said that its provisions would have effect notwithstand­ing anything contained in any other law, rules or regulations for the time being in force or judge­ment of any court, including the SC and high courts. The lawmak­ers from both sides of aisle were not against the legislation.

Speaking on the amendments of the bill, Chairman PPP and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhu­tto Zardari commented in the house that former chief jus­tice Iftikhar Chaudhary im­posed “judicial dictatorship” in the country. He blamed Imran Khan’s government for pushing the country towards default.

He said it was the former prime minister who brought terrorists back to the country from Afghanistan.

Bilawal said the nation brave­ly fought against terrorists and eradicated terrorism from the country. It was unfortunate that the terrorism eliminated due to the sacrifices of the Pakistan Army, police and common mass­es had been revived by Imran Khan, the minister remarked.

“NATO and the US failed in Afghanistan, but Pakistan suc­ceeded,” he remarked, and add­ed Mr Khan released terrorists from jails. He further said, “An incompetent prime minister was imposed on us in the past who devastated the country’s economy.” Bilawal slammed PTI chief for his policies and said he was responsible for current eco­nomic crises and wave of terror­ism in the country.

He said, Imran Khan and his team were responsible for the prevailing economic crisis.

The foreign minister said that the people of the merged areas of erstwhile FATA had given un­matched sacrifices for eliminat­ing terrorism and restoration of peace across the country.

He said that non-political ac­tors were responsible for bring­ing Imran Khan into power.

He asked the Prime Minis­ter to take action and file a case against the person who had vi­olated the Constitution and law of the land. Bilawal said that the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill, 2023 was intro­duced to strengthen the judicial system in the country.

He said that democracy in the country had been restored by the sacrifices of the political workers and their leadership.

Bilawal Bhutto said that keep­ing in view the interest of the country and for the strength­ening of democracy, two main political parties had signed the Charter of Democracy (CoD).

After this, he said, the coun­try was moving to progress, prosperity and development. He said that the Constitution of 1973 was restored to its origi­nal shape and the 18th amend­ment approved with consensus to bring harmony in the prov­inces. About the amendments in the bill, Minister for Law Azam Tarar said Pakistan has six bar councils and “all of them have saluted the House and the law for tabling the bill.”

He also acknowledged Bilaw­al’s “too little, too late” remarks but said he believed “there is a right time for everything” and the government demonstrat­ed restraint “until a voice came from within the courts”.

The law minister thanked the members of the NA Standing Committee on Law and Justice for their input on the bill. “This bill was an old demand of the bar councils which said that indis­criminate use of 184(3) sh uld be stopped,” he added. Tarar said the bill aimed to make apex court proceedings transparent and it also included the right to appeal.

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