ISLAMABAD: A day after a joint session of parliament adopted a bill seeking to curtail the powers of the chief justice of Pakistan, lawyers challenged the piece of legislation in the Supre­­me Court and the Islam­abad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday through similar petitions.

The bill, which was earlier passed by both houses last month but was later returned by President Arif Alvi, was approved by the joint session with some amendments on Monday.

The petition in the Supreme Court was filed by Advocate Muhammad Shafay Mu­nir, who challenged the legislation — the Supreme Court (Practice and Proc­e­dure) Bill 2023 — insisting that the plea had been filed to safeguard and secure the Constitution and independence of the judiciary.

In the petition, moved under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, Mr Mun­ir contended that the petitioner believed in the su­­p­remacy of the Constitu­tion, the rule of law, and independence of the judiciary and had always strived and struggled to protect the Constitution, independence of the judiciary and fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution.

The respondents named in the petition included the federal government through the secretaries of law, Senate and National Assembly.

A similar petition filed in the IHC contended that the bill had limited the CJP’s jurisdiction, as it made it mandatory for him to consult senior judges while forming benches.

It said that though the legal fraternity demanded the right of appeal against suo motu proceedings, it could have been made without curtailing CJP’s powers.

Both petitions reques­t­­ed the court to declare the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023 as illegal and void ab initio.

Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2023

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