ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday again postponed the hearing on a series of petitions challenging the Supreme Court (Practice & Procedure) Act, 2023, without any proceedings after Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan sought some more time to review laws regulating the court’s affairs.
Besides, Justice Shahid Waheed, one of the eight judges, was also indisposed. It is expected that the case will be taken up again after July 15.
This is the second time the hearing to the challenges has been postponed without any significant proceedings.
Earlier on June 1, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial had decided to take a recess for a week after AGP apprised the court about government’s intention to harmonise some “overlapping provisions” of the Supreme Court (Practice & Procedure) Act, 2023, and the Supreme Court (Review of Judgements and Orders) Act, 2023.
Challenges to SC (Practice & Procedure) Act expected to be taken up after budget-making process
Headed by the CJP, the Supreme Court had taken up the challenges moved by petitioner Raja Amer Khan and others against the Supreme Court (Practice & Procedure) Act, 2023, which seeks to limit the powers of the top judge. On April 13, the eight-judge Supreme Court bench suspended the enforcement of the act.
On Thursday, the AGP and other counsels were called by the judges in the Ante Room, adjacent to Courtroom No. 1, where the AGP requested for some more time, whereas certain lawyers informed the court that they were on a general adjournment.
The AGP also explained that since the government as well as the National Assembly was preoccupied with the passage of the current budget therefore it would take some time to undertake the exercise of harmonising of the law.
Later the media waiting inside the courtroom was communicated through the court staff that the case has been adjourned.
The bench that had taken up the challenges consist of Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Ayesha Malik, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Shahid Waheed.
During the earlier hearing AGP had explained that Section 4 of the law that provides review of the court judgements overlap with Section 6 of practice and procedure law since both talks about the right to appoint counsel of choice by the petitioners.
Similarly, Section 2 of the law on review overlaps with section 5 of the practice and procedure law since both sections deals with enlargement of jurisdiction of the court by considering the review on a judgement to be an appeal, etc.
On May 8, the ruling PML-N had pleaded before the Supreme Court that it would not be appropriate to hear a case concerning regulating its practice and procedure by an eight-judge bench, which was allegedly “selected” and headed by CJP since the composition of the bench creates an impression, even if unfounded, as if guided by CJP.
“The matter involves devolving and sharing the discretionary powers of CJP himself, especially in relation to the formation of benches. In the circumstances, it would not at all be appropriate for the matter to be heard by an eight-member bench that is both selected (and headed) by the CJP,” contended senior counsel Salahuddin Ahmed on behalf of PML-N.
Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2023