A set of petitions challenging the Supreme Court (Practise and Procedure) Act 2023, a bill that mandated the formation of benches on constitutional matters of public importance by a committee of three senior judges of the court, will soon be heard by the Supreme Court’s full 15-judge panel.
Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Aminuddin Khan, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Ayesha A. Malik, Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi, Justice Sha
The law states that a three-member bench, comprising the CJP and the two senior-most judges of the apex court, will decide whether or not to take up a matter suo motu. Previously, this was solely the prerogative of the CJP. Additionally, it adds to the review jurisdiction of Supreme Court, giving the right to file an appeal within 30 days of the judgement in suo motu cases.
On April 13, an eight-judge SC bench headed by former CJP Umar Ata Bandial, had suspended the enforcement of the Supreme Court (Practice & Procedure) Act, 2023.
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When the law was suspended, Justice Bandial had observed that the court had great respect for the Parliament but it also had to examine if any constitutional deviation, violation or transgression had taken place while enacting the legislation.
The petitioners in the case had pleaded before the apex court that the concept, preparation, endorsement and passing of the law was an act tainted with mala fide. Therefore, the bill should be struck down after declaring it to be without lawful authority and of no legal effect, the petition contended.
Moreover, they said the federal government could not frame any law that seeks to interfere or regulate with the functioning of the apex court or the powers exercised by it or its judges including CJP, under the Constitution.