ECP review: SC adjourns hearing indefinitely after AGP reveal of new law

After the AGP argued that a new law has expanded the scope of review petitions against judgments, the Supreme Court (SC) adjourned the hearing of the Punjab polls review petition, caught off guard by the revelation.

Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan told the Supreme Court (SC) that the new act had been notified under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution.

Considering the new law signed by President Arif Alvi just yesterday, a larger bench will hear review petitions.

In addition, AG Awan informed the court of the development as a three-member bench headed by CJ Bandial comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar was hearing the ECP’s review petition against the bench’s April 4 order. The same three-judge bench had on April 4 ordered the ECP to hold elections in Punjab on May 14.

Notably, the federal government and the apex court have been at loggerheads over the provision of polls in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for months. During previous proceedings the government had contended that the bench’s order encroached on the autonomy of the ECP.

Meanwhile, the three-member bench announced that they would hear the ECP’s review petition with an open mind and emphasized that they would not use the government’s “past” against it.

However, under the new law, the review will now be heard by a larger bench.

The National Assembly on Friday passed the “Supreme Court (Review of Judgements and Orders) Bill, 2023” aimed at giving the right of appeal under Article 184 of the constitution – a right which was not available in the past.

According to the bill, the filing of a review petition is permissible within 60 days from the passing of the original order.

SC report:

The statement of objects and reasons of the bill, “it is necessary to ensure the fundamental right to justice by providing for meaningful review of judgments and orders passed by Supreme Court of Pakistan in exercise of its original jurisdiction under Article 184”.

Furthermore, it states that in case of SC judgments and orders in the exercise of its original jurisdiction under Article 184 of the Constitution, the scope of review shall be the same as an appeal under Article 185.

The bench was visibly surprised to know that President Alvi had signed the bill yesterday. “This is quite interesting,” remarked CJ Bandial before adjourning proceedings indefinitely.

Published in the Logical Baat, May 29, 2023.

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