NA passes bill to curtail CJP’s suo motu powers

The “Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill, 2023” was approved by a panel, chaired by PML-N MNA Bashir Mehmood Virk, with a few additional amendments. One amendment allows for the right to appeal against suo motu verdicts up to 30 days before the passing of the Lawyers’ Protection Act. Another amendment stipulates that any case involving the interpretation of the Constitution must have a bench consisting of at least five judges. Attendees of the meeting included Federal Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, Minister of State for Law and Justice Shahadat Awan, PML-N’s Mohsin Ranjha, and MNA Ramesh Kumar Vankwani. Tarar expressed concern that senior Supreme Court judges had not been included in important benches for the past year, and criticized the use of suo motu authority as a “one-man show”. He also defended the bill, stating that it was an old demand of stakeholders, and that not having the right to appeal against a suo motu decision was against fundamental rights. The panel discussed objections raised against the bill, including claims that it was passed in a bulldozing manner, and that Article 184(3) of the Constitution would need to be amended. Tarar responded by saying that the government did not want to make a law that could be challenged later on, and that the Supreme Court had done nothing on the matter in years. The bill was approved with the amendments, and Tarar mentioned that the Supreme Court Bar Association believed that Article 184(3) of the Constitution should also be amended.

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