ECP review petition: SC adjourns hearing indefinitely after AGP informs of new law

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court adjourned the hearing of the Punjab polls review petition after being caught off guard by the AGP arguing that a new law passed has enlarged the scope of review petitions against judgments.

Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan told the Supreme Court (SC) that the new act had been notified under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution.

In view of the new law that was signed by President Arif Alvi only yesterday, a larger bench will hear review petitions.

AG Awan informed the court of the development as a three-member bench headed by CJ Bandial comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar was hearing the ECP’s review petition against the bench’s April 4 order. The same three-judge bench had on April 4 ordered the ECP to hold elections in Punjab on May 14.

Notably, the federal government and the apex court have been at loggerheads over the provision of polls in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for months. During previous proceedings, the government had contended that the bench’s order encroached on the autonomy of the ECP.

Meanwhile, the three-member bench had said that the ECP’s review petition would be heard with an open mind and that the government’s “past” will not be used against it.

However, under the new law, the review will now be heard by a larger bench.

The National Assembly on Friday passed the “Supreme Court (Review of Judgements and Orders) Bill, 2023” aimed at giving the right of appeal under Article 184 of the constitution – a right which was not available in the past.

The bill states that a review petition may be filed within 60 days of the passing of the original order.

The statement of objects and reasons of the bill, “it is necessary to ensure the fundamental right to justice by providing for meaningful review of judgments and orders passed by Supreme Court of Pakistan in exercise of its original jurisdiction under Article 184”.

Furthermore, it states that in case of SC judgments and orders in the exercise of its original jurisdiction under Article 184 of the Constitution, the scope of review shall be the same as an appeal under Article 185.

The bench was visibly surprised to know that President Alvi had signed the bill yesterday. “This is quite interesting,” remarked CJ Bandial before adjourning proceedings indefinitely.

Resultantly, Nawaz Sharif and Jahangir Tareen can now file new review petitions within 60 days. However, no review petition has been submitted against the judgment which held that disqualification under Article 62 ( 1) ( f) of the Constitution would be for life.

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