The Supreme Court of Pakistan is set to resume the hearing of petitions challenging the controversial Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023.
The act seeks to curtail the powers of the Chief Justice of Pakistan, and has been met with widespread criticism and opposition.
The hearing will be conducted by an eight-member larger bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial and composed of esteemed judges such as Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan and Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi. The hearing is scheduled to take place on May 2, Tuesday.
Several parties have been issued notices in this regard, including the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP), Supreme Court Bar Association, and Pakistan Bar Council.
Furthermore, nine political parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), have also been issued notices.
During the last hearing of the case on April 13, the top court had ordered a stay on the implementation of the act, stating that the law would not be acted upon in any manner until further orders.
The bench further observed that the facts and circumstances presented in the case are extraordinary both in import and effect.
The Supreme Court (Practise and Procedure) Bill 2023 was notified by the federal government as an act on 21 April despite the top court’s order for a stay.
President Dr. Arif Alvi, who is supported by the PTI, had twice sent it back to the legislature, claiming that the law went “beyond the competence of parliament.”
With effect from April 21, 2023, it was nevertheless presumed that the president had given his consent under Clause (2) of Article 75 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
The bill was approved on March 28 by the federal cabinet and later passed by the National Assembly and the Senate, but the president refused to sign it into law.
But on April 10, in the midst of a raucous protest by PTI lawmakers, a joint session of parliament passed it once more with some modifications. The bill was then sent back to the president for his approval, but this time he didn’t sign it.
In accordance with the Constitution, the president’s assent would have been deemed granted within 10 days if he declined to sign the bill a second time after the joint parliament’s approval.
The upcoming hearing has drawn a lot of interest and is anticipated to have profound effects on the Chief Justice of Pakistan’s authority and the operation of the nation’s judicial system.