In response to a statement issued by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the Supreme Court Registrar Dr Faqir Hussain explained that the press conference by the member of the ICJ appeared to be based on some miscomprehension, perhaps ignorance, of the constitutional provisions and case law developed on the issue.
On Friday Mr Stefan Trechsel, the visiting ICJ head, had in a news conference urged the Supreme Court to exercise restraint in taking up cases suo motu because overuse of this procedure could endanger the rule of law. He had stressed that there was a need for transparency in allocation of such cases to different benches.
The statement issued by the Supreme Court registrar recalled that the procedure for processing suo motu cases was prescribed in Order XXV of the Supreme Court Rules, 1980; besides, he added, the issue had long been settled by the Supreme Court in successive judgments, including in the case of Ms Benazir Bhutto versus Federation of Pakistan (PLD 1988 SC 416). In that judgment, the statement said, the apex court while interpreting Articles 184(3) and 199 of the Constitution had observed that the procedural trappings and limitations of Article 199 (1)(a) and (1)(c) (meaning requirements of aggrieved party, locus standi, etc) did not apply to the Supreme Court, while exercising powers under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.
Thus, the court has entertained petitions, complaints and had taken up matters of suo motu, in cases of violation of fundamental rights, the statement said. The constitutional provision and the case law on the subject are very clear and categoric, therefore, when a fit case is filed or comes to the court notice, the court cannot abdicate its constitutional obligation; it has to entertain the case.
After registration of the case, it is fixed before benches of the court for decision and the parties to the case and other persons involved/ interested in the matter can appear before it, the statement said. At times, the court also appoints amicus curie for its assistance or a committee or a commission can also be set up for inquiry and report.
The people of Pakistan are generally appreciative of the exercise of such jurisdiction by the Supreme Court because it grants relief to aggrieved parties, especially poor and underprivileged sections of society, executive’s wrongs are corrected and billions of rupees of misappropriated are recovered from the corrupt, the Supreme Court statement said.