As far as AGP is concerned, the two Supreme Court statutes are largely identical.
The CJP approves of the proposal to change the law and advises that the government seek judicial input before passing any legislation pertaining to the SC.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court Chief Justice said the government should engage with the court when crafting laws that deal with the court’s operations, a position that was in line with the comment made by the state’s top law officer on the need to harmonise two new pieces of legislation pertaining to the judiciary.
“The judiciary is not an area that should be subject to arbitrary regulation. Umar Ata Bandial, the Chief Justice of Pakistan, made the observation that the government should confer with the Supreme Court before passing laws affecting the administration of the judiciary.
The Supreme Court (Practise and Procedure) Act, 2023 has applications filed against it, and he was headed a larger bench of eight judges hearing such cases.
In an effort to limit the CJP’s ability to take suo motu action and to create benches, the National Assembly on 29 March approved the Supreme Court (Practise and Procedure) Bill 2023. The bill received Senate approval the next day, on March 30.
However, the president sent the law back to the legislature without signing it. The Supreme Court’s enlarged bench of eight judges “pre-emptively” halted enforcement of the bill on April 13 while hearing several petitions challenging the law.
Despite the supreme court’s directive, the bill was signed into law on April 21.
Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan said Thursday that there is some duplication in the Supreme Court (Practise and Procedure) Bill, 2023 and the Supreme Court (Review of Judgements and Orders) Bill, 2023 as the bench resumed hearing the petitions.
According to the AGP, “the sections dealing with filing of review petitions and hiring counsels are somewhat similar in both law,” but the Supreme Court (Practise and Procedure) Act, 2023 has a greater scope because it includes provisions connected to the internal workings of the SC.
The AGP also noted the importance of deciding “which law should be relied upon.”
The CJP expressed its appreciation for the AGP’s “suggestion” to harmonise the two laws, and it was heartening to hear that both the government and parliament were willing to make the necessary changes to achieve this goal.
There are now two options for bringing these two laws into harmony:
There are two possible outcomes here: either the government will harmonise the two laws on its own, or parliament will continue passing bills and we’ll keep hearing arguments. Let’s see who’s the first to act. You follow the government’s recommendations. He said, “We will also look into this recommendation.”
Imtiaz Siddiqui, the petition’s lawyer, pointed out that the parliament had ignored the court’s instructions and not given it information about the Supreme Court (Practise and Procedure) Bill, 2023.
The CJP said that the court learned of the parliament’s intention to withhold information about its sessions from the court from newspaper accounts.
“However, the Parliament is probably unaware that all this record is available on its website,” he said, adding that the bench had also compiled this information from the internet. The court eventually recessed for a week.
The Supreme Court Act of 2023 (Review of Judgements and Orders)
On April 14, MNA Shaza Fatima’s private member’s bill, the Supreme Court (Review of Judgements and Orders) Bill, 2023, was approved by the National Assembly. On May 5, the law was approved by the Senate. The Senate is the upper house of parliament.
On May 25, President Alvi signed the bill into law after it was submitted to him for approval. The AGP submitted their petition to the Supreme Court on May 29, and the Senate Secretariat released its gazette announcement the same day.
The new rule has broadened the grounds for filing review petitions, giving former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and other lawmakers a chance to challenge the Supreme Court ruling that led to Sharif’s permanent exclusion from politics in July 2017.