Amid the ongoing tussle between parliament and the judiciary, a crucial bill regarding the right of appeal in the suo motu cases sailed through the Senate on Friday, just days after the National Assembly had adopted it via a supplementary agenda.

The bill, titled the Supreme Court (Review of Judgements and Orders) Bill, 2023, was tabled by PML-N’s Irfan Siddiqui and was passed by a majority of 32 votes. The legislation was presented amid opposition by the PTI senators, who chanted slogans of “disrespect of courts unacceptable” and tore its copies.

The proposed law aims to enlarge the top court’s jurisdiction of reviewing its judgements and orders and “strengthen the exercise of this power by the Supreme Court”.

Speaking in favour of the bill, Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar briefly said that the legislation neither disrespected the Parliament nor the courts. He explained that the bill encompassed four sections which were in line with Article 188 of the Constitution.

“Parliament won’t digress from it by an inch and it won’t step back from it as well,” Tarar added.

Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition Dr Shahzad Waseem said that the government was trying to hide behind the Parliament. “Stop playing with the Constitution,” he said.

“Was the Parliament not supreme when the Qasim Suri’s ruling was thrown out?” he asked. “Where were these people back then?”

Slamming the coalition leaders for disrespecting the courts, Waseem said, “Pakistan is functioning without any form of government today.” He also questioned how the budget could be passed when “there are no functioning governments in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab”.

“These are just techniques to run away from elections,” he told the House.

The PTI senator stated that party chairman Imran Khan was appearing before courts despite being shot. “There is this prime minister before you and then there is the one who is sitting abroad today.”

He then called on the government to show due respect to the judiciary. “You will have to accept and implement the Supreme Court’s order on elections no matter what,” Wasim added.

The bill

The bill, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, said 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.

It stated 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.”

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