National Assembly passes bill to curtail CJP’s power

The National Assembly has passed the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill, 2023 on Wednesday.

The bill was presented in the National Assembly by the Federal Minister for Law Azam Nazeer Tarar in an effort to curtail the top court’s discretionary powers to take suo motu notice.

The bill was forwarded to the National Assembly Standing Committee on Law and Justice for further consideration. Members of the Parliament had urged the Speaker to entrust the bill to the Standing Committee saying that it would not be wise to pass the bill in haste.

The Law Minister said that in the past there have been a lot of criticism on the suo motu notice of the highest court. He said that there have been a lot of criticism on the court regarding the suo motu notice.

He said that when under 184 (3) a case is taken then there have been criticism on the fate of those decisions. He said that it was for the first time that a question has been raised that there should be right to appeal.

Azam Nazeer Tarar said that after the dissenting note of two justices, it was decided to amend the power. He said that this would help in enhancing the sacredness of the apex court and its judiciary.

The National Assembly session was convened under the Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf.

The bill will now be presented to the National Assembly for ratification by the lower chamber of parliament after being approved.

A committee comprising three senior judges would decide whether or not to issue the sou motu notice following the bill’s adoption.

The new bill also has a provision on the right to contest the notice after which a hearing will be scheduled for two weeks.

Every issue, appeal, or case before the Supreme Court is to be considered and decided upon by a bench composed of the CJP and two senior judges, in order of seniority, the bill stated.

The bill also states that any matter involving the exercise of original jurisdiction under Section 2’s clause (3) of Article 184 of the Constitution shall be brought before the committee for review and, if the committee determines that a matter of public importance involving the enforcement of any of the fundamental rights granted by Chapter I of Part II of the Constitution is involved, it shall appoint a bench consisting of at least three members.

A bench of at least five judges of the Supreme Court must be assembled by the committee in cases involving the interpretation of constitutional provisions, it further stated. The bill also allows a party to select a lawyer of its choosing when submitting a request for a review under Article 188 of the Constitution. It should be emphasized that the term “counsel” in this context refers to a Supreme Court advocate.

The bill stated that “a cause, appeal, or matter shall be fixed for hearing within fourteen days from the date of the filing of any application pleading urgency or seeking interim relief.”

The National Assembly also passed the bill for welfare and protection of journalists.