Hearing of SC Practice and Procedure Act adjourned till Oct 3

ISLAMABAD:Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa on Monday adjourned the hearing of the petitions challenging the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act, 2023 till October 3.

A full court bench, headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, was hearing petitions challenging the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act, 2023, a legislation introduced by the former coalition government.

CJP Qazi Faez Isa, during the hearing of the petitions challenging the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act, 2023, which was broadcast live for the first time in the country’s history, remarked that he heard AGP’s arguments in the case.

The chief justice added that the AGP has to leave for Vienna regarding the Indus Waters Treaty. The AGP and other lawyers sought time to reply to the questions raised by the bench.

The chief justice said that he will establish a bench after consulting two senior SC judges including Justice Sardar Tariq and Justice Ijazul Ahsan. He directed lawyers and all parties in the case to submit their replies and arguments by September 25.

CJP Qazi Faez Isa remarked that they approved all petitions regarding the full court. He asked his fellow judges to constitute small benches. Later, the chief justice adjourned the hearing till October 3.

Full court proceedings

Earlier, the Supreme Court decided that the full court proceedings on a set of pleas challenging the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023 would be broadcast live. The decision was taken in a full court meeting headed by CJP Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

The full court was constituted by newly-appointed Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa and includes Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Aminuddin Khan, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Ayesha A. Malik, Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi, Justice Shahid Waheed and Justice Musarrat Hilali.

Following the decisions the cameras of PTV were installed in the courtroom for the broadcast of the hearing live. Four cameras have also been installed in the visitors’ gallery and one is installed for the lawyers’ rostrum in front of the judges’ docks.

At the outset of the hearing, the Supreme Court accepted all the pleas seeking the formation of the full court to hear the case. CJP Qazi Faez Isa remarked there were three petitions for the constitution of the full court and the best solution to address this important issue.

The federal government in its response submitted to the SC, urged the apex court to dismiss all the pleas challenging SC Practice and Procedure Act. “Pleas against the law passed by Parliament are inadmissible.”

Parliament has the right to legislation under Article 191 of the Constitution of Pakistan, the written reply of the government read and added that no one can bar the Parliament from legislation. The petitioner’s lawyer, Khawaja Tariq Rahim in his arguments said the Parliament cannot interfere in SC’s matters. To, this the CJP remarked, “Whatever you are saying is not mentioned in the act.” Khawaja sahab! Don’t go in the past, read the act which you have challenged, CJP Isa asked.

Justice Athar Minallah remarked Khawaja sahab are you in favour of giving all the powers to a single personality? Whatever happened in the past, do you want it to continue? He added. During the hearing, the CJP advised Khawaja Tariq Rahim not to respond to the questions raised by him and his fellow judges abruptly. “I’m trying to make your life easy, note down the queries and respond in detail,” the top judge remarked and added you can give written responses too.

“Do you want to make CJP unaccountable,” CJP Isa asked the petitioner. Furthermore, the CJP chided counsel Rahim for referring to his “personal opinion” during the arguments and asked him to stick to the law.

“What is this ‘personal opinion’, please talk about the law,” CJP Qazi Faez Isa remarked. He further asked: “Whose right can be taken away by this law?” “Rs6.5 billion dollars were lost due to the court’s decision in the Reko Diq case, as chief justice, I do not want such authority,” he remarked.

Justice Muneeb Akhtar raised the question that if there was administrative authority, had the parliament abolished judicial authority? Justice Musarat Hilali asked if the powers of the CJP had been clipped by this legislation. Justice Mandokhel inquired whether the powers of the chief justice had been withdrawn and the powers of the Supreme Court had been curbed.

Justice Athar Minallah asked Khawaja Rahim if agreed that chief justice was master of the roster.

CJP welcomed upon arrival at SC.