Justice Faez Isa questions formation of special benches

Justice Faez Isa questions formation of special benches


Justice Qazi Faiz Isa observed that there was no provision for a special bench in the rules.

ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) – Justice Qazi Faez Isa excused himself from being part of a special bench hearing a suo motu case with regard to the provision of 20 extra marks to ‘Hafiz-e-Quran’ medical students. 

Justice Isa remarked on Wednesday that why a regular bench of the top court could not hear the case as there was no provision for a special bench in the rules.

Justice Isa is heading a three-judge special bench comprising Justice Aminuddin Khan and Justice Shahid Waheed that is hearing a petition pertaining to a 2018 regulation of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) suggesting award of 20 additional marks to candidates who are Hafiz-e-Quran to get MBBS or BDS degrees.

Attorney General for Pakistan Shehzad Ata Elahi said he would give arguments if the court would serve a notice on that point. 

PDMC counsel Afnan Kundi explained the council was not implementing the 2018 regulation of awarding 20 marks to candidates as the regulation was not in the field.

Justice Isa not only questioned the concept of special benches but also castigated the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) for its directive to satellite TV channels to stop maligning state institutions and judges. How anyone could suppress the freedom of media, he questioned and said whether the judges should not be held accountable for their misconduct. 

He said an impression was given that the court had done it. 

The AGP said Pemra had stopped the satellite channels from criticising state institutions and judges’ conduct. 

Justice Isa remarked that the Supreme Court was a constitutional regulatory body, not a state institution. He said Pemra did nothing if abusive remarks were given against a civil judge or magistrate. The Authority was rather destroying the television industry by imposing restrictions on the media, he observed.

Justice Isa remarked that people would turn towards social media if the TV channels would be unable to run the news. Even the Shariat Court would also dismiss Pemra’s letter, he added. Pemra could take action against anyone for issuing fake news, he said. 

Justice Isa asked Attorney General for Pakistan Shehzad Ata Elahi whether the Supreme Court Rules 1980 permitted special benches. 

The AGP submitted that he would assist the court if a notice was issued. When the same question was put to PMDC representative Advocate Kundi, he said he would have to look at court practice.

“The next time martial law is clamped, will you say we have to look at the practice and conventions of the court,” Justice Isa remarked, adding “we have to uphold the constitution at all cost”.

The three judges who are hearing the plea are part of different three-member benches. 

Justice Isa said they had to assemble at the special bench to hear this case that could be fixed before any of the regular benches. It was understandable if the special bench was set up on a holiday, he added. 

He noted that the SC registrar had ‘already spoiled the case’ by fixing the matter after 14-month delay, leaving people to point fingers at the judiciary. Judges would never want allegations being levelled at the judiciary in talk shows, but Article 19 allows freedom of expression, he observed.

The court asked Advocate Malik Naeem Iqbal, who earlier was appointed amicus curiae, to furnish a concise statement on the PMDC matter.