The Pakistani Supreme Court, presided over by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa and the whole court bench, is presently hearing arguments over the contentious Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023.
The live airing of the hearings on national television is seen as a crucial step in deciding the Act’s future. Judges Munib Akhtar, Yahya Afridi, Aminuddin Khan, Jamal Khan Mandokhel, Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Ayesha A. Malik, Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi, Justice Shahid Waheed, and Justice Musarrat Hilali are all members of the full court bench.
The Supreme Court is now facing a backlog of cases, which Chief Justice Isa voiced worry over in addition to highlighting the importance of the case’s resolution. He underlined that although the Act redistributes the Chief Justice’s authority among other judges, it does not necessarily reduce such powers, raising concerns about the balance of power within the judiciary.
It is believed that choosing the future of the Act will depend on whether or not the hearings are broadcast live on national television. Members of the entire court bench include judges Munib Akhtar, Yahya Afridi, Aminuddin Khan, Jamal Khan Mandokhel, Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Ayesha A. Malik, Justice Athar Minallah, Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi, Shahid Waheed, and Musarrat Hilali.
Chief Justice Isa expressed concern about the Supreme Court’s current case backlog in addition to underlining the significance of the case’s conclusion. He emphasized that although the Chief Justice’s authority is redistributed among other judges under the Act, this does not always mean that those powers are reduced, raising questions about the judiciary’s power structure.
The Supreme Court blocked the implementation of the Act on April 13. On his first day in office, Chief Justice Isa, however, subtly disregarded this injunction by directing that the proceedings be broadcast live. Officially, the law’s implementation was still on hold.
The parties involved in the case were instructed to submit written responses before the subsequent hearing. The Act was developed to safeguard the rule of law, judicial independence, and access to justice, claims the Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q). They maintained that Parliament had the authority to regulate the Supreme Court’s procedures and practices.
On the other hand, the government argued that if the Act was upheld, decisions made by benches before the law’s passage would be retained as closed transactions. They maintained that the Act did not discriminate between the criminal and civil aspects of the Supreme Court’s power and that anybody who felt disadvantaged by judgements rendered under Article 184(3) might seek a review.
The government also emphasized that Parliament’s control over practice and procedure did not compromise the judiciary’s internal independence, which encompasses the judges’ institutional and personal independence from the executive.
During the hearings, Chief Justice Isa highlighted the prospect that the Act would have an impact on future Chief Justices and senior judges. He questioned if the Chief Justice or the whole public was served by the statute.
Justice Akhtar brought up the subject of legislative competence, emphasizing that the main point was whether Parliament had the authority to adopt such legislation. He emphasized that if Parliament’s authority were accepted, the situation would proceed in one manner, but it would be resolved if it were denied.
The legal representatives for the various parties argued that the Act may restrict access to justice, compromise the independence of the Supreme Court, and go beyond Parliament’s constitutional authority. The hearings continued to look at the Act’s provisions and any potential impacts they could have on the Supreme Court’s power structure and the judiciary as a whole.
The legal system of Pakistan is being significantly impacted by the proceedings, and the outcome will probably have an effect on how the judiciary, Parliament, and executive branch interact as well as how the Constitution is read. The whole nation closely monitors the Supreme Court’s proceedings on this crucial issue.