Proposed Amendments to the Supreme Court Practice and Procedure in Pakistan – An Overview of the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill, 2023
The proposed amendment, the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023, aims to regulate certain practices and procedures of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. It is based on Article 191 of the Constitution, which allows the Supreme Court to make rules regarding its practice and procedures.
The Bill seeks to address several issues related to the Supreme Court’s exercise of original jurisdiction under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, which has been a subject of discussion in various forums. One issue is the invocation of suo motu powers, which the Bill addresses by requiring that any matter invoking the exercise of original jurisdiction under Article 184(3) be first placed before a committee consisting of the Chief Justice of Pakistan and two senior-most judges. If the committee determines that a question of public importance with reference to enforcement of any of the fundamental rights conferred by Chapter 1 of Part II of the Constitution is involved, it shall constitute a bench comprising not less than three judges of the Supreme Court for adjudication of the matter.
Another issue that the Bill addresses is the absence of a right of appeal from a final order of a bench of the Supreme Court that exercised jurisdiction under Article 184(3) of the Constitution. The Bill provides for an appeal to a larger bench of the Supreme Court within thirty days of such an order, with the appeal to be heard within a period not exceeding fourteen days.
The Bill also aims to ensure that every citizen has the right to appoint counsel of their choice when filing a review application under Article 188 of the Constitution. It defines “counsel” as an advocate of the Supreme Court.
Additionally, the Bill seeks to address the issue of applications filed for early hearing of a case not being fixed for hearing, by requiring that an application pleading urgency or seeking interim relief be fixed for hearing within fourteen days from the date of its filing.
Finally, the Bill provides that its provisions shall have effect notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, rules, or regulations for the time being in force or judgment of any court including the Supreme Court and a High Court.
In summary, the proposed amendment aims to regulate certain practices and procedures of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, particularly with respect to the exercise of original jurisdiction under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, the right of appeal, and the right to appoint counsel of choice. It seeks to address these issues while ensuring that its provisions override any conflicting laws, rules, regulations, or court judgments.
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