The Supreme Court (Practise and Procedure) Bill 2023 was again returned unsigned by President Dr. Arif Alvi on Wednesday.
The President stated in a notification that the “highest judicial forum of the country is hearing arguments regarding the competence of legislation and the validity of the bill.”
“Therefore, no further action is necessary for deference to the same.”
However, legally, the Bill won’t become law until April 20, ten days after the President returns it unsigned.
The parliament once more enacted the Parliament in a joint session on April 10 despite protests from the opposition following the President’s refusal to sign it. A supreme court bench of eight judges halted Bill’s execution.
The Bill, introduced by federal law minister Azam Nazir Tarar, was sent back to President Dr. Arif Alvi for approval after he had previously sent it back to the legislature unsigned.
According to President Alvi, the measure “prima-facie travels beyond the competence of the Parliament and can be assailed as a colorable legislation” should be returned to the legislature for reconsideration.
Days after it was sent to him for approval and sailed through the National Assembly and Senate amid a dispute between the government and the SC over the timing of snap elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he took this action by the requirements of Article 75 of the Constitution.
The President’s previous position on the Bill
According to the President, returning the Bill with a request for reconsideration in conformity with the Constitution would allow it to withstand any legal challenges it might face.
The President stated that various factors needed to be taken into consideration. First, the Supreme Court is given the authority to “make rules regulating the practice and procedure of the Court” by Article 191 of the Constitution. The Supreme Court Rules of 1980 have been developed and are currently in effect under such enabling provisions of the Constitution, and the Constitution itself has adopted them. Since 1980, these tried-and-true Rules have been observed; changing them could interfere with the Court’s internal operationsCourtwell as its autonomy and independence, he emphasized.
According to him, the Constitution was built on the trichotomy of power, which refers to the three pillars of the State whose scope of authority, power, and responsibilities are outlined in the Constitution.
Additionally, he highlighted Articles 67 and 191 of the Constitution, which outline the authority of the Pakistani Supreme Court and Parliament, respectively.
According to Article 67, “a House may make rules for regulating its procedure and the conduct of its business, subject to the Constitution.”
Articles 67 and 191 are similar to one another and recognize each other’s autonomy and independence, respectively, preventing intrusion into one another’s sphere, the President declared.
He claimed that as intended by Pakistan’s founding fathers, who declared that “the independence of the judiciary shall be fully secured,” the highest courtCourtan the autonomous institution. Article 191 was added to achieve this goal, and the Supreme Court was excluded from the legislative process.
The Constitution itself, he emphasized, gives Parliament the authority to enact legislation.
About any item on the Federal Legislative List, which is listed in the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution, “Article 70 relates to the ‘introduction and passing of Bills’. The clause in Article 142(a) that states that Parliament may pass legislation “concerning any matter in the Federal Legislative List” is followed and further affirmed. The Supreme Court was specifically left out of Entry 55 of Part I of the Fourth Schedule, which gave the Parliament the authority to enact laws regarding the “jurisdiction and powers of all courts except the Supreme Court,” according to Mr. Alvi.
The Supreme Court is granted appellate jurisdiction by the Constitution’s Articles 185 to 212 and advisory, review, and original jurisdiction under Articles 186 and 184. The emphasis of the Bill is Article 184(3), which deals with the CourtCourt’sinal jurisdiction and specifies how to invoke it and how to file an appeal. The concept may be admirable, but can such a goal be achieved without changing the provisions of the relevant Constitutional Articles? According to established law, a Constitution is not a common law but rather the embodiment of fundamental principles, a higher law, and a law above other laws.