Pakistan’s parliament, SC on collision course


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Islamabad: Pakistan’s parliament and judiciary have arrived at a standoff as the ruling alliance rejected the eight-member bench constituted to hear the petitions challenging the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023, a media report said.

The Pakistan Supreme Court, on the other hand, while exercising “anticipatory injunction”, stayed the operation on the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure Bill) 2023 aimed at curtailing the powers of the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take suo motu notice and constitute benches, The News reported.

The PDM coalition government released a statement, which rejected the eight-member bench, terming it controversial. The allies in the federal government vowed to resist attempts to take away parliament’s authority and to interfere in its constitutional scope, The News reported.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023 was passed by a joint sitting of parliament after Pakistan President Arif Alvi returned it. Following the development, an eight-member bench was constituted to hear petitions arguing that the “concept, preparation, endorsement and passing of the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023 is an act tainted with mala fide”.

Subsequently, four separate petitions were filed under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, asking the top court to set aside the bill.

The ruling coalition statement termed the development “unprecedented” as the pleas were admitted even before the completion of the legislative process. It said the move was equivalent to sabotaging the credibility of the country’s highest court, making the constitutional process of justice “meaningless”, The News reported.

“This bench itself is a testament to the division of the SC, which once again supports the earlier stated position of the ruling parties,” the statement said. It said that the ruling alliance considers this an “attack” on parliament and its authority, The News reported.

The statement lamented the formation of the “controversial” bench – which does not include any of the judges who raised questions on the powers of the CJP — and the non-inclusion of judges from Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It said that attempts to snatch the authority of parliament and to interfere in its constitutional domain will be resisted. “No compromise will be made on the authority of parliament in the light of the Constitution of Pakistan,” the coalition partners maintained.

They said that the top court judges – Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail – had in their earlier judgments expressed their objection to the “one-man show”, biased and dictatorial behaviour, and the formation of special benches. “With the formation of the eight-member controversial bench, the facts stated in the judgments of these honourable judges have become more clear,” the statement said, The News reported.

“The constitution of the controversial bench in haste and fixing the bill for hearing, apart from the will and intent, also clearly expresses the decision to come which is sad and tantamount to murder of justice,” the ruling alliance maintained.

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( With inputs from )

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