Islamabad: On Thursday, the rift between judicial system of Pakistan and the federal government seemed to widen as the coalition government issued a joint statement, rejecting the eight-member ‘controversial’ bench to hear a petition against the Supreme Court (Practice & Procedure) Bill – 2023.
The joint statement said that the move would destroy the credibility of the apex court and such a decision has never been witnessed in the history of country. It added that forming the bench proves that there is a division among the Supreme Court. The federal government reminded that on October 12, 2019, the All Pakistan Lawyers Convention demanded to pass the law through parliament.
The bench, led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, includes Justice Shahid Waheed, Justice Hasan Azhar Rizvi, Justice Ayesha Malik, Justice M.Ali Mazhar, Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar, Justice Muneeb Akhtar, and Justice Ijazul Ahsan. It is pertinent to mention that judges who gave written dissents in cases during 2023 are not members of the bench. This includes Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail.
The joint statement of the ruling coalition has said that members of the Supreme Court had themselves raised objections to the dictatorial behaviour and forming benches to oppose their decisions. The coalition government’s statement further criticised not including judges from Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Supreme Court (Practice & Procedure) Bill – 2023
The bill has the target to curtail the powers of Chief Justice of Pakistan of forming benches and taking suo motu actions. It proposes that in order to bring transparency in judicial affairs, a three-member committee should be formed which includes CJP and senior judges.
Along with curtailing the powers of CJP, the bill grants parties the right to choose counsel for filing review applications.