SC Issues Notices to Federal Govt,AGP on CJP Bill

The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday heard petitions against the bill curtailing the chief justice of Pakistan’s power and issued notices to the federal government, Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan, political parties, the Pakistan Bar Council and the Supreme Court Bar Council.

An eight-judge larger bench of the apex court heard the petitions against the Supreme Court (SC) (Practice and Procedure) Bill, 2023, which seeks to curtail the CJP’s powers to initiate suo motu proceedings and constitute benches on his own.

As the hearing adjourned, Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial stated that the eight-member bench issue a written order. He emphasize that the case was a crucial matter that involved the independence of the judiciary, which are already declare a fundamental right of citizens.

Besides the CJP himself, the larger bench comprises Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Ayesha Malik, Justice Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Shahid Waheed.

As the hearing commenced, Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan and the petitioner’s lawyers Advocate Azhar Siddique and Advocate Imtiaz Rashid Siddiqui were present in the courtroom.

Petitioner Raja Amir’s lawyer, Imtiaz Siddiqui, opened the arguments and stated that the case was of “great importance” due to the ongoing situation. He added that after the Qasim Suri case, the political divide across the aisles had increased significantly.

Siddiqui continued that the political crisis in the country had proliferated after the restoration of the National Assembly.

He further argued that the federal government and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) were not willing to hold elections, thus the court itself had to take notice of the matter and order the ECP to conduct polls.


He said that the court had ordered elections on April 3, but following the Constitution’s directives had resulted in more problems. He further mentioned that the court and judges faced personal criticism.

Siddiqui held government ministers and parliamentarians responsible for this.

The lawyer stated that the proposed legislation interfered with the independence of the judiciary.

He detail that after approval from both houses, the bill send to the president who raise objections and sent the bill back to the assembly, however, the president’s objections are not review. He added that the bill would become law in ten days after approval by the joint session.

“Under Article 191 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court makes its own rules,” he said.

He stated that under the bill, a three-member committee would decide on the suo motu notices and the formation of benches. He highlighted that the main question was if the bill was worthy of becoming law.

“It is illegal for the Cabinet to ratify the bill. Bill presentation and approval in the cabinet are both administrative matters,” he said, adding that presenting the bill in the NA and getting approval was “unconstitutional”.


Siddiqui maintained that the bill was not pending but was a proposed act and would become part of the law after the president’s approval.

He clarified that the SC could invalidate the bill passed by the Parliament, adding that the top court could not exist without the CJP.

“The Supreme Court (SC) completes its work with the appointment of the CJP and even if there are other judges without the Chief Justice, the court is not complete,” he said.

He argued that no one could reduce the powers of the CJP and judges, and no other judge could use the office of the CJP. He raised a question about how the CJP’s office share with two other senior judges.

Siddiqui remarked that the SC had given several decisions on the independence of the judiciary and could review the actions of every institute of the state.

“The Supreme Court declared in the Qasim Suri case that the actions of the Parliament can also be reviewed by the court,” he said.


He said that the court had previously declared that it could not prevent bills from passing, but it could review them after their passage. He also mentioned that the court had decided that it could review the proposed act before the president approved it.

According to the lawyer, the current case was of Article 184(3) of the Constitution, wherein the SC had superior jurisdiction. He highlighted that in the past, the SC had even ordered the demolition of a marriage hall under the Article.

They maintained that all the orders of the court were subject to fundamental rights, and questioned the independence of the judiciary was not a fundamental right of the people.

He also stated that the proposed law sought to curtail the powers of the CJP, but Article 184(3) gave the right to review not appeal. Siddiqui added that an SC judge could not appeal against another judge.

“The question is whether Parliament can regulate the internal affairs of the judiciary”.

Ahead of the hearing, a large number of lawyers, including pro-PTI lawyers, were present outside the top court. PTI leader Azam Swati was also present outside the SC. Slogans raise by the lawyers against the government and in favour of the judiciary.

The SC’s security was tightened. A large of Rangers personnel, police and frontier corps (FC) were present inside and outside the court.

The petitions:

So far, citizens Chaudhry Ghulam Hussain and Raja Aamir Khan have filed two of the three petitions against the bill through their lawyers Advocate Tariq Rahim and Azhar Siddique.

In the petitions, the federation, law ministry, principal secretary to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and principal secretary to President Dr Arif Alvi name as respondents.

The petitions argue that the proposed bill was based on “bad faith” and was “fraudulent” with the Constitution. They request the SC to nullify the proposed bill as “unconstitutional” and “illegal”.

The SC has also been asked to suspend the proposed law until a decision on the petition was made and to prevent the president from signing the bill.

Published in the Logical Baat, April 13, 2023.

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