The Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023 was handed to President Dr. Arif Alvi on Thursday for final approval, making it a law. Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani initiated the bill.
Most of the upper house of parliament had previously approved the law minister’s proposed bill.
Up to 60 parliamentarians supported the measure, while 19 senators opposed it. Legislators from the opposition tore up draughts of the proposed law. The law limits the chief justice of Pakistan’s (CJP) ability to take individual suo motu notice.
The opposition’s proposal to refer the measure to the Senate’s standing committee was defeated in the house. The House agreed to a motion made by the Treasury benches to pass the bill.
Senate security personnel built a barrier between opposition lawmakers and the Treasury in the interim. After that, the bill was put up for a vote in the house. By a majority of votes, the House approved the bill.
PTI Despite their attempts to speak, Senator Ali Zafar and opposition leader Shahzad Wasim were not permitted to discuss the bill.
On March 28, the federal cabinet gave the bill its approval. Subsequently, on Wednesday, it was approved by the National Assembly. The Standing Committee on Law and Justice made a few changes hours earlier. PTI members vigorously opposed the bill when it was introduced in the upper house on Thursday.
On introducing the measure in the Senate, Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar said, “Law can never be stagnant. For the law to serve the people’s demands today, one must provide room for change. Instead of managing the court through collaborative thought, the court became dependent on an individual,” the law minister stated.
He claimed CEOs were regularly ordered to stand on the rostrum, criticizing the overuse of suo motu powers. Suo motu notices were taken, and issues regarding street cleaning were also raised.
The minister lamented that the state suffered damages of billions of dollars due to suo motu notices. He noted the government’s losses in the Reko Diq deal and the Steel Mills. He added that the liver hospital was another instance of the overuse of suo motu powers.
According to Mr. Tarar, voices from the Senate and other bar associations have been raised calling for “collective thinking” to be reflected in the “jurisdiction of Article 106 of the Constitution.”
He defended the bill’s necessity by stating that there have been calls for legislation to “address the issue” during recent Senate sessions. He also emphasized that the standing committee had proposed two modifications on Wednesday.
The law minister went over the main points of the measure before stating that the Supreme Court currently holds the position that it shouldn’t be just one person who has the authority to form benches.
“Only group decision-making advances institutions. For institutions to function effectively, he argued that we should focus on strengthening the system rather than the personalities.
Mr. Tarar added that the bill would resolve the dilemmas of determining whether or not a case is of public concern and when it must be scheduled for a hearing.
The session adjourned following the bill’s passage until Friday at 10:30. (tomorrow).