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Friday, April 19, 2024

Deep rifts: PDM govt rejects 8-member bench for SC Bill pleas

The ruling coalition released a statement rejecting the bench and called it ‘controversial’.

In a major development, the ruling PDM government has rejected the eight-member bench constituted to hear petitions challenging the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023.

According to the details, the ruling coalition released a statement rejecting the bench and called it ‘controversial’. The coalition partners vowed to resist attempts to take away parliament’s authority and to interfere in its constitutional scope.

Highlighting the loopholes in the formation of the “controversial” bench — which does not include any of the judges who raised questions on the powers of the CJP — the coalition parties lamented the non-inclusion of judges from Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Read more: Alleged misconduct: Complaint filed against Justice Isa for attending NA session

To clarify, an eight-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by the chief justice, will take up a set of three petitions challenging the bill meant to clip the Chief Justice of Pakistan’s (CJP) powers at 11:30 am today.

The bill, titled the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023, is aimed at depriving the office of the CJP of powers to take suo motu notice in an individual capacity.

In addition to CJP Umar Ata Bandial, the bench set to hear plea against the bill comprises Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Ayesha A. Malik, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Shahid Waheed.

 

Interestingly, Justices Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Aminuddin Khan – who had earlier ruled that the CJP did not have the power to make special benches or decide its members and ordered the postponement of all suo motu matters – were missing from the bench.

The bill was initially passed by both houses of parliament and sent to the president for his assent. However, the president had sent it back, saying that the proposed law travelled “beyond the competence of parliament”.

Read more: Why Nawaz Government rushing to dilute Supreme Court’s Suo Moto?

The statement issued by the ruling coalition today said that the top judge’s move was “tantamount to destroying the credibility of the highest court of the country and making the constitutional process of justice meaningless”.

The ruling coalition’s rejection of the Supreme Court’s bench has come at a time when the speculations are already increasing on the deepening rifts between the coalition government and the superior judiciary.