NA passes resolution upholding parliament’s prerogative of legislation

Published April 14, 2023
PPP MNA Ali Musa Gilani speaks in the National Assembly session on Friday. — National Assembly Twitter
PPP MNA Ali Musa Gilani speaks in the National Assembly session on Friday. — National Assembly Twitter

The National Assembly (NA) on Friday passed a resolution declaring that parliament’s prerogative of legislation could not be usurped or interfered with.

The resolution moved by PPP MNA Ali Musa Gilani also referred to a Supreme Court order, wherein the apex court, in an “anticipatory injunction”, barred the government from enforcing a proposed law targeting the suo motu powers of the chief justice of Pakistan.

The order — issued by an eight-member bench including Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial a day ago — said its decision would “prevent imminent apprehended danger that is irreparable” as soon as the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023 becomes an act of parliament.

The bill was initially passed by both houses of parliament and sent to the president for his assent. However, the president had 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 from PTI lawmakers.

As per the Constitution, the bill will be sent to the president once again for his assent, and if he does not sign it within ten days, assent will be deemed to have been granted.

However, with the SC’s order, the implementation of the law that will subsequently come into effect has been halted.

The resolution passed in the NA today said: “This house strongly rejects the aggressive attempt of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to abrogate the unquestioned constitutional authority of the parliament to make legislation and unequivocally clarifies that this authority cannot be abrogated nor interfered with.”

It added that the House regretted that a state organ had “openly violated” the Constitution on an occasion marking its golden jubilee.

The resolution said powers of the state were divided into three institutions — the judiciary, legislature and executive — as per the Constitution and none was authorised to interfere in the affairs of the other.

The resolution further said that parliament had the power to approve or disapprove the budget, financial bills, economic matters and release of resources, adding that no one could take away, suspend or revoke this power.

It stressed that doing so was tantamount to violating the basic concept of the Constitution and demolishing it.

The resolution expressed “serious concern” that the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023 was fixed for hearing before a “controversial and unilateral eight-member bench” of the SC even before it was enacted.

“This unconstitutional tradition is not only reprehensible but also completely contrary to logic and the judicial procedure. This process itself is proof of unjustified haste, so it cannot be recognised as a valid order or decision according to the Constitution, law and prevailing procedure of justice. Therefore, it is rejected.

“The house directs the federal government to carefully review this serious constitutional violation and take steps in accordance with the Constitution and law for its correction,” the resolution read.

Dam fund reallocation for flood relief

The NA also passed a resolution calling for the reallocation of the Mohmand and Diamer-Bhasha dam fund towards helping people affected by last year’s floods.

A fund for the construction of the two dams was launched by former chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar in July 2018, and the initiative was later joined by then-prime minister Imran Khan.

The resolution moved today by PML-N MNA Kesoo Mal Kheeal Das Kohistani said Nisar had begun “collecting funds for the development of dams and water reservoirs in violation of the law and going beyond judicial traditions”.

As a result, the “Supreme Court of Pakistan — Diamer Bhasha and Mohmand Dams — Fund” was set up on July 10, 2018, the resolution said, adding that according to a news report, a five-member bench of the Supreme Court — headed by CJP Umar Ata Bandial — was informed in January that the fund’s value stood at Rs16.53bn and was expected to rise to Rs16.98bn by the next quarter of this year.

“This House demands that this amount collected in the dam fund is deposited in the national treasury and these resources be utilised for the relief and rehabilitation of the victims of the catastrophic floods of 2022,” the resolution reads.

Supreme Court (Review of Judgements and Orders) Bill, 2023

The NA also passed the Supreme Court (Review of Judgements and Orders) Bill, 2023 today, which was moved by PML-N MNA Shaza Fatima Khawaja.

The statement for the objects and reasons of the bill its purpose was to enlarge the top court’s jurisdiction of reviewing its judgements and orders and “strengthen the exercise of this power by the Supreme Court”.

It added that it was necessary to ensure the fundamental right to justice by providing for a “meaningful review” of the apex court’s judgements and orders in the exercise of the SC’s original jurisdiction as described in Article 184 of the Constitution.

The bill, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, said that the scope of review on facts and law in case of apex court judgements and orders while exercising jurisdiction under Article 184, would be the same as an appeal under Article 185.

Furthermore, the bill said a review petition was to be heard by a larger bench than the bench that passed the original order or judgement.

It added that a review petitioner shall have the right to appoint any advocate of the Supreme Court of their choice for the review petition.

The bill also said that the right to file a review petition would be extended to any aggrieved party against whom an order under Article 184(3) was given prior to its commencement, provided that the review plea was filed within 60 days of the bill’s passing.

The bill also set the limitation of filing a review petition within 60 days of the original order’s passing.

Lastly, it said, “The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, rules or regulations for the time being in force or judgement of any court including the Supreme Court and a high court.”


Additional input from the Associated Press of Pakistan.

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