Swiftly passed SC bill curtailing CJP's powers awaits President's assent

Swiftly passed SC bill curtailing CJP's powers awaits President's assent


60 lawmakers vote in bill's favor in Senate

ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) – Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani on Thursday sent the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023 to President Dr Arif Alvi for final assent thus making it a law.

The upper house of parliament had, earlier, passed the bill, tabled by the law minister, with majority.

As many as 60 lawmakers voted in favour while 19 senators opposed the bill. Opposition lawmakers tore up copies of the proposed bill. The bill is aimed at curtailing powers of the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) to take suo motu notice in an individual capacity. 

The house rejected opposition’s motion for sending the bill to the standing committee of the Senate. Treasury benches moved a motion to pass the bill immediately which was accepted by the house. 

In the meanwhile, security staff of the Senate made a protective fence between treasury and opposition lawmakers. After that the bill was presented in the house for voting. The bill was passed by the house with majority votes.

PTI Senator Ali Zafar and opposition leader Shahzad Wasim tried to speak but they were not given permission to express their views on the bill.

The federal cabinet had approved the bill on March 28. Later, it was passed by the the National Assembly on Wednesday. A few amendments were suggested by the Standing Committee on Law and Justice hours earlier. As the bill was tabled in the upper house on Thursday, PTI members put up strong opposition.

Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar, while presenting the bill in the Senate, said, “Law can never be stagnant. One has to keep a margin for changes in the law so that it can function according to needs of the people in the present.” The law minister said, “Instead of running the court through collective thinking, the court became dependent on an individual.” 

Criticising the excessive use of suo motu powers, he said, “Executives were made to stand on the rostrum repeatedly. Such suo motu notices were taken that matters of cleaning streets were also brought up.” 

The minister lamented that due to suo motu notices, the state had to incur losses worth billions of dollars . He mentioned losses faced by the government in the Steel Mills and the Reko Diq agreement. The liver hospital also was an example of excessive use of suo motu powers, he said.

Mr Tarar said voices had arisen from the various bar bodies and the Senate that the “jurisdiction of Article 106 of the Constitution be restructured at least” so that it would reflect “collective thinking”.

Defending the need for the bill, he said there were demands in the recent Senate sessions as well to do legislation to “solve the issue”. He also highlighted that two amendments had been suggested on Wednesday by the standing committee. 

Detailing the salient features of the bill, the law minister said there had now arisen an opinion from within the Supreme Court that the power to constitute benches should not lie under one person only.

“Only collective thinking takes institutions forward. If we want to strengthen institutions, we should strengthen the system instead of the personalities so that the institution can deliver,” he asserted. 

Mr Tarar further said the bill would solve the issues of deciding when a certain case had to be fixed for hearing and whether it is of public importance or not.
After passage of the bill, the session was prorogued till 10:30am on Friday (tomorrow).