SC rejects plea to form full court to hear Practice & Procedure Bill

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday dismissed the Pakistan Bar Council’s request to form a full court to hear the case regarding the “Supreme Court Practice & Procedure Bill”.

The Bill had recently become law, but the implementation of the law had been suspended by the apex court till the pending of the verdict.

The 8-judges bench comprised CJP Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Sayyad Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Ayesha Malik, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Shahid Waheed took up three petitions filed under Article 184(3) of the Constitution by Advocate Muhammad Shafay Mu­nir, Raja Amer Khan, Chaudhry Ghulam Hussain and others, challenging the proposed law.

Barrister Salahuddin appeared on behalf of the PML-N while Farooq Naek appeared on behalf of the PPP. Meanwhile, Hassan Raza Pasha represented the Pakistan bar Council (PBC).

During the course of proceedings today,tThe Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial, stated that a previous court order was interim and that democracy, a free judiciary, and the center were crucial elements of the country’s Constitution. He emphasized that the case at hand pertained to the judiciary’s independence, and the court expected serious arguments from the parties involved. CJP Bandial noted that the law in question was the first of its kind in Pakistan and related to the third pillar of the state. He further added that an independent judiciary was an integral component of the Constitution and alleged that a fundamental element of the Constitution had been violated through this legislation.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial also remarked that the environment of judicial proceedings has been polluted by politics. He noted that political parties are not showing respect to all judges of the Supreme Court and that demands to remove some judges from the bench suggest a desire for a verdict, rather than justice, adding that a salient feature such as the independence of the judiciary has been violated by a statute.

At one occasion, the Pakistan Bar Council’s lawyer argued that a full court should be constituted to hear a case, and a bench of the seven senior-most judges would be appropriate. The lawyer also called for Justice Naqvi to be excluded from the bench due to references filed against them in the Supreme Judicial Council.

However, the Apex Court rejected the request, with the Chief Justice saying that a judge cannot be stopped from working until the SJC gives its opinion, and a demand for constituting a full court had also been made in a case regarding holding elections in the country. The Chief Justice emphasized that all institutions in the country are required to follow the directives issued by the top court.

Later, the SC summoned the record of the parliamentary proceedings and debate on the Supreme Court Rules and Procedures Bill, and record of the discussion in the Standing Committee on this matter as well.

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