Pakistan parliament approves bill to clip top judge’s powers after President Alvi refuses assent

ISLAMABAD – The joint sitting of the Parliament on Monday passed the Supreme Court Practice and Procedure Bill, 2023 that aims at curtailing the powers of the chief justice of Pakistan.           

Federal Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar moved the bill days after President Arif Alvi returned it for reconsideration.

The bill proposes that every cause, appeal or matter before the Supreme Court shall be heard and disposed of by a bench constituted by a Committee comprising the Chief Justice of Pakistan and two senior most judges in order of seniority.

It further states any matter invoking exercise of original jurisdiction under clause (3) of Article 184 of the Constitution shall be first placed before the committee for examination and if the committee is of the view that a question of public importance with reference to enforcement of any of the fundamental rights is involved then it shall constitute a bench comprising not less than three judges of the apex court, which may also include the members of the committee for adjudication of the matter, Radio Pakistan reported.

The bill recommends that an appeal shall lie within 30 days from the final order of a bench of the Supreme Court, who exercised jurisdiction to the larger bench of the apex court and such appeal shall for hearing be fixed within a period not exceeding fourteen days.

Furthermore, it grants a party the right to appoint counsel of its choice for filing a review application. An application pleading urgency or seeking interim relief filed in a cause, appeal or matter shall be fixed for hearing within 14 days from the date of its filing.

Earlier, it was passed by both the Houses of the Parliament and sent to the President for former approval making it into law. But the president refused to assent the bill.

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