Top judge adjourns hearing as attorney shows copy of law signed by president

Eight-judge bench to hear petitions against judicial reforms bill on Thursday

Now, only a larger bench can hear review petition, argues AGP n ‘This is interesting. Let’s meet on Thursday,’ Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial tells AGP Awan nCourt adjourns ECP's review petition regarding elections in Punjab n CJP urges AGP to adopt right course of action to bring stability in country.

 

ISLAMABAD    -    The Supreme Court of Paki­stan Monday adjourned the hearing on the Election Com­mission of Pakistan's (ECP's) review petition against the top court's order of holding Pun­jab's general elections on May 14 till Thursday (June 1).

A three-member SC bench comprising Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijaz Ul Ah­san and Justice Munib Akhtar heard the case and adjourned hearing as the court was ap­prised that a law for the re­view of suo motu judgements had come into effect.

During the course of pro­ceedings, Attorney Gener­al for Pakistan (AGP) Man­soor Usman Awan said that the Supreme Court (Review of Judgements and Orders) Bill 2023 had become a law after the president’s assent. He said that the scope of review and appeal were the same now as per the new law. He said that the review appeal could only be heard by a larger bench.

The Attorney General also submitted a notification signed by the President to the court and according to the available copy of the notification President Dr. Arif Alvi approved the new law on May 26. The Attorney General also objected to the bench and said that the Supreme Court Review Act had now become a law and the scope of revision under the new act would be the same as an appeal, now only a larger bench could hear the re­view petition.

The AGP informed the top court that new law has been enacted, which has en­larged the scope of the review under Arti­cle 184(3) of the Constitution. The attor­ney general at the outset informed that the Supreme Court Review of Judgments and Order Act, 2023 has been passed af­ter the President assented to it on Friday, “while I received the copy on Saturday and it will be notified today (Monday).”

He said that the Section 2 of the Act en­larges the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court as the scope of review on both facts and law, shall be the same as an ap­peal under Article 185 of the Constitu­tion. Sajeel Sheryar Swati said, “I wish it would have happened earlier.” 

The Chief Justice said that it means that now a larger bench will hear the review, adding that no minimum mem­ber is given. This is interesting, the CJP said, and added Entry 55 of the Legisla­tive List talks to enlarge the jurisdiction. The Attorney General replied Entry 55 does not matter as the existing jurisdic­tion of the Supreme Court has been en­larged through this law.

The CJP observed that the other case [Supreme Court (Practices and Proce­dures) Act, 2023.] is fixed on Thursday. He asked the attorney general to get in­struction from the government on it, and said the apex court is for the enforce­ment of Fundamental Rights, which is also the salient feature. He added, “We understand that the jurisdiction of Ar­ticle 184(3) requires some form of sub­stantive review. Swati and you (AGP) have cited the judgments of the apex court that there should be substantive review. Indian law is confined to prop­er hearing and the element of biased. He continued, “What is the scope of curative view, we are examining it.”

Justice Bandial asked that now they will hear the review petition under this law. He noticed that as no one from oth­er side (PTI) was present therefore the case was adjourned indefinitely. The CJP asked the attorney general ‘let’s then meet on Thursday.’ Chief Justice of Paki­stan Umar Ata Bandial said the judicia­ry and the executive must interact for preparation of the laws concerning its independence. He noted that the law is being made in secrete and coercive way, while it should be transparent. 

According to the history, the chief jus­tice nominates the judges for commis­sion. He said there was time when the Court had chief justice and acting chief justice. He further said that no one should break the conventions that were set in Memo Commission, Abbottabad Commission and the Commission of Sal­eem Shehzad. In all these cases the chief justice had passed the order and nom­inated the judges for commission and then the government issued notifica­tions. However, in the instant matter the government acted unilaterally. The question arises why to break the norm. “If you investigate the cases through nor­mal course then do try to break the nor­mal course.” The chief justice said had he been consulted he definitely not like to sit in the commission but would have recommended some other judge.

He said that let’s explore the silver lin­ing. “Bring stability in the country. The temperature would not help the econ­omy. Adopt the right course of action.” The CJP said that the law is assented by the President. 

The SC Practices and Procedures does affect our work. He asked the attorney general that the government can enlarge the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court but cannot curtail it. You try to interfere in our management. Cleverly played in Section 5 of the Practice and Procedure law. He said aggressive attitude would not help. The Supreme Court (Review of Judgments and Order) Act 2023 states that in case of judgement and orders of the Supreme Court in exercise of its original jurisdic­tion under Article 184 of the Constitution, the scope of review on both facts and law, shall be the same as an appeal under Arti­cle 185 of the Constitution.

It proposes that a review petition shall be heard by a bench larger than the bench which passed the original judg­ment in order. It suggests that the review petitioner shall have the right to appoint any advocate of the supreme court of his choice for the review petition.

The Act states that the right to file a re­view petition shall also be available to an aggrieved person against whom an or­der has been made under clause (3) of the Article 184 of the Constitution, pri­or to the recommendation of this legis­lation. It suggests the petition shall be filed within sixty days of the commence­ment of this legislative piece. It asks that a review petition may be filed within six­ty days of the passing of the original or­ders. It states that this legislation shall have effect notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, rules or reg­ulations for the time being in force of the judgment of any court including the Su­preme Court and High Court.

SC TO HEAR PETITIONS AGAINST JUDICIAL REFORMS ACT ON JUNE 1 

An eight-member bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan will on June 1 conduct hearing of the petitions against Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act, 2023. 

The bench is headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprises Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Ayesha A Malik, Justice Syed Hassan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Sha­hid Waheed.

Senior journalists Chaudhry Ghulam Hussain and Sami Ullah Abraham, and advocates Raja Amer Khan, Malik Amir Abdullah and Muhammad Shafay Munir have filed petitions before the Supreme Court under Article 184(3) of the Consti­tution praying to set aside the Bill 2023.

The court has already issued notic­es to the Attorney General for Pakistan, Vice-chairman Pakistan Bar Council, President Supreme Court Bar Associa­tion, Pakistan Muslim League (N), Pa­kistan People’s Party Parliamentarians, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Jamaat-e-Islami, Awami Nation­al Party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Balochistan Awami Party and Pakistan Muslim League (Q).

On the last hearing, Attorney General for Pakistan Usman Mansoor Awan, rep­resenting the federation, and Barrister Salahuddin Ahmed, appearing on behalf of the PML-N, had urged the apex court to constitute a Full Court for hearing the petitions against the Act. The bench on April 13 had declared; “The moment the Bill, 2023 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.” The bill had become law on April 21, 2023.

The Chief Justice had directed the At­torney General for Pakistan to provide the material of the Parliament regarding passage of the Act.