8 member SC bench halts implementation of bill clipping CJP's discretionary powers

In pre-emptive strike- SC larger bench suspended a bill which still not become a law yet

The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday ruled that the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023 will not have any effect, nor will it be implemented or enforced in any manner until further notice. This order was given amid a standoff between the government and the section of SC judges including CJP.

The ruling comes hours after the National Assembly unanimously passed a resolution calling for the dissolution of the eight-judge larger bench of the Supreme Court which was constituted by the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial to hear the petitions against the bill. 

The written order was  released hours after the court hearing. No clear order was announced in the open court. It was indicated in the open court that notices have been issued to concerned authorities. 

An eight-judge larger bench of the apex court heard the petitions against the bill, which seeks to curtail the CJP's powers to initiate suo motu proceedings and constitute benches on his own.

Besides the CJP himself, the larger bench comprises Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Ayesha Malik, Justice Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Shahid Waheed.

"In our view, the facts and circumstances presented here are extraordinary both in import and effect. Prima facie the contentions raised disclose that there is a substantial, immediate and direct interference with the independence of the judiciary in the form of multiple intrusions, in the guise of regulating the practice and procedure of this Court and conferring upon it a jurisdiction that appears not to be permissible under any constitutional provision," the written order by the eight-member bench stated.

According to the order, any interference in the functioning of the court, even on the most tentative assessment, would start as soon as the bill becomes an act.

"Accordingly, in our view, an interim measure ought to be put in place, in the nature of an anticipatory injunction. The making of such an injunction, to prevent imminent apprehended danger that is irreparable, is an appropriate remedy, recognised in our jurisprudence and other jurisdictions that follow the same legal principles and laws."

As soon as the bill receives the assent of the president or is deemed to have received it, the order stated, the act that comes into effect shall not have any effect or be acted upon in any manner until further orders.

The bench issued notices to Attorney General for Pakistan, Supreme Court Bar Association, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Pakistan Peoples Party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), Jamaat-e-Islami, Awami National Party (ANP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q).


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