President returns Bill clipping CJP’s powers unsigned

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    President Arif Alvi returned a bill on Wednesday that sought to limit the Chief Justice of Pakistan’s (CJP) authority without his signature, stating that the matter was still under legal review.

    “The country’s top court is currently hearing arguments on the issue of the bill’s legality and competence. No more action is desirable in respect of the same,” he responded.

    The bill’s draft suggests giving a three-member committee made up of the CJP and two senior judges the authority to accept suo motu notifications and form benches.

    One of these changes is the ability to challenge suo motu judgments rendered within 30 days of the Lawyers’ Protection Act’s passage. Another is that a bench of no fewer than five judges must hear any matter involving the interpretation of the Constitution.

    The law has now been returned about the President’s consent twice in a succession.

    The Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023 was previously sent back to the legislature by President Alvi, who said that the proposed law was outside the purview of the legislative body and may be contested as a spurious enactment.

    After lawmakers demanded a thorough discussion of the bill, the National Assembly (NA) forwarded it to a legal committee on March 28.

    On March 29, when the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) dropped its suggested revisions, NA cleared the measure by a simple majority.

    The law was also approved by the federal cabinet. The Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023 received the Senate’s approval on March 30.

    The measure was then delivered to President Alvi.

    The highest court prohibited the administration from enforcing the measure when it becomes law three days after the combined parliament session passed it.