Pak’s ruling coalition rejects SC bench hearing petitions

Against bill on clipping Chief Justice's power

Islamabad, Apr 13 (PTI):
Pakistan’s ruling coalition has rejected the formation of an eight-judge bench tasked to hear the petitions against pending legislation meant to clip the powers of the Supreme Court Chief Justice, terming the move “unprecedented” and “unacceptable”, media reports said on Thursday.
The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) also issued a joint declaration in which it said that the apex court’s move to form a “controversial bench” even before the completion of the legislative process “was never seen in the history of Pakistan and the Supreme Court”, the Dawn newspaper reported.
The bill, titled the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023, is aimed at depriving the office of the CJP of powers to take suo motu notice in an individual capacity.
It was initially passed by both houses of parliament and sent to the president for his assent. However, the president sent it back, saying that the proposed law travelled “beyond the competence of parliament”. On Monday, the bill was passed by a joint sitting of parliament with certain amendments, amid a noisy protest by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers.
The eight-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by the chief justice, will take up a set of three petitions challenging the bill on Thursday, the report said. In its joint declaration, the PDM said that the move is “tantamount to destroying the credibility of the highest court of the country and making the constitutional process of justice meaningless”, another report by The Express Tribune said.
“This bench itself is a testament to the division of the Supreme Court, which once again supports the earlier stated position of the ruling parties,” the report said, citing the statement.
In addition to CJP Umar Ata Bandial, the bench hearing plea against the bill comprises Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Ayesha A. Malik, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Shahid Waheed.
The bench is termed as controversial by the ruling coalition because notably missing from the bench are Justices Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Aminuddin Khan who had earlier ruled that the CJP did not have the power to make special benches or decide its members and ordered the postponement of all suo motu matters.
The ruling coalition also said that the honourable judges of the apex court themselves have openly expressed their objections to the “one-man-show”, biased and dictatorial behaviour and the formation of special benches in their decisions.

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