After NA, Senate approves bill to clip CJP’s suo motu powers

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ISLAMABAD: The Senate of Pakistan on Thursday passed the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure), Bill 2023 — aimed at curbing the top judge’s suo moto powers in an individual capacity.

There were 60 votes in favour of the bill and 19 against it.

Speaking in the Senate, Law minister Azam Nazir Tarar – who had moved the bill – said that there are different attitudes towards running the institution.

“Under Article 191 of the Constitution, the Parliament can amend the Constitution and the Constitution says not to interfere unnecessarily with each other’s boundaries,” he furthered.

The law minister also said that now “all supreme court judges are equal”.

Tarar maintained that this was a long-standing demand, “the voice came from the SC that an individual should not have the sole authority of the apex court.”

Moreover, the Lawyers Welfare and Protection Bill 2023 was also passed by a majority vote and the session was adjourned till 10:30 am tomorrow (Friday).

PTI senators oppose bill

Senators of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) opposed the Supreme Court Practice and Procedure Bill 2023 and stood on their seats in protest.

The PTI senators raised slogans of “attack on judiciary is unacceptable” and surrounded the dice of the chairman. Moreover, a scuffle broke out between Senator Faisal Javed and Senator Bahramand Tangi.

A day earlier, the National Assembly had unanimously passed the bill that a committee comprising three senior-most judges of the apex court would decide on the suo motu notice, while there would be a right to file an appeal within 30 days of the suo motu decision.

The appeal has to be fixed for hearing within 14 days of filing and after the taking of a suo motu notice, the hearing will be conducted by a three-judge bench, the bill added.

It continued that the decision of the majority in the matter would be acceptable to all.

After the passage of the law, no decision of the SC or high court, or any other legislation would be able to affect it.

Under the additional amendments, the right of appeal would be available in pending cases, while the bench constituted on constitutional as well as legal matters would comprise at least five judges.

On March 28, the federal government had not only ruled that the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) can no longer constitute benches and initiate suo motu proceedings alone but had tabled the same bill curtailing unbridled powers of the top judge in the National Assembly for approval.

Things started unfolding quickly earlier this week as first Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif addressed the NA session, then the federal cabinet gave approval for the proposed bill – The Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act, 2023 – and finally the bill was tabled in NA in the presence of the premier, who came back to attend the session after he chaired the cabinet meeting.

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