All cases that are currently being heard by various Supreme Court benches in accordance with Article 184(3) of the Constitution must be postponed until changes are made to the Supreme Court Rules, 1980, regarding the chief justice of Pakistan’s (CJP) discretionary powers, according to the country’s highest court.
While hearing a suo motu case regarding the grant of 20 additional marks to a Hafiz-e-Quran student seeking admission to MBBS or BDS programs, a three-judge special bench of the Supreme Court issued the order on Wednesday with a vote of 2 to 1.
Justice Qazi Faez Isa presided over the special bench, which was created by CJP Umar Ata Bandial. The bench also included Justices Shahid Waheed and Aminuddin Khan.
Read: The ruling came as the National Assembly unanimously passed the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023, which curtails the CJP’s suo motu powers, on Wednesday. Justice Isa questions the provisions of the “special bench” constitution.
Composing the larger part judgment, Equity Isa noticed that neither the Constitution nor the High Court rules empower the CJP to make exceptional seats or choose regarding which judge will be on a specific seat.
According to the order, “The rules do not grant any power to [the SC] registrar or to the chief justice to change a judge or judges on a bench or to reduce their number.” Justice Aminuddin Khan concurred with Justice Isa. Justice Shahid Waheed, on the other hand, opposed the order.
Article 184(3) of the Constitution covers three types of cases, according to the order: “First, when a formal application is filed seeking enforcement of fundamental rights.” Second, when the Supreme Court or its judges take notice (suo motu). The third category includes cases of extreme constitutional significance (which may also include those in the first and second categories).
The SC’s Order XXV only addresses the first category of cases. The second and third categories of cases do not have a prescribed procedure. Since a verdict in suo motu cases cannot be appealed, the order noted that this is a serious matter.
“The following matters cannot be addressed in accordance with the rules: ( a) how such cases be recorded for hearing, (b) how seat/seats to hear such cases be comprised and (c) how judges hearing them are chosen.”
The majority’s order also stated that the rules of the highest court do not specify how cases should be listed for hearing, how the bench or benches that will hear them should be constituted, or how the judges who will hear them are chosen.
Justice Isa had questioned whether the SC rules permit the formation of special benches in the first place during earlier proceedings.
Continue reading The ex-CJ is still haunted by Nawaz’s disqualification. “Where is the concept of the special bench?” he had asked, adding, In the morning, the three judges were sitting on different benches.
He asserted that the establishment of special benches would lead to “misgivings” and make the Supreme Court susceptible to “criticism.” Shehzad Ata Elahi, Pakistan’s Attorney General, testified in front of the court that special benches have a history. He had asked the court for time to help with the matter.
Equity Isa likewise asked why the issue of conceding 20 extra checks to Hafiz understudies was recorded before a seat following 14 months. The senior judge stated, expressing his deep concerns, that the SC “is a completely unaccountable institution” and that “we must proceed with the utmost caution”
Justice Isa inquired, “What is the due process if one case is scheduled for hearing the same day it is filed while another is scheduled months later?”
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), the country’s media regulator, prohibits criticizing state institutions, particularly superior courts, according to the SC judge.
“If I do something wrong, why shouldn’t my behavior be discussed?” He stated: Is Pemra interested in establishing a police state?” He also inquired about the meaning of the term “state institutions.”
He made the remark, “The Federal Shariat Court could even declare the Pemra orders to be unIslamic.”
Changes in the air?
After issuance of ongoing reason records, legitimate specialists have started bantering with regards to whether unavoidable trends have at long last begun blowing in the summit court as prior questions were being raised about excluding two senior most appointed authorities – Equity Isa and Equity Sardar Tariq Masood – in extraordinary or bigger seats hearing sacred and politically delicate cases.
Due to Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah’s remarks in another case, there is a strong perception that some judges have been preferred over others for the majority of politically sensitive cases over the past five years.