SC dismisses petitions challenging the Practice and Procedure Act 2023

Supreme court

ISLAMABAD: In a significant decision on Wednesday, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the Supreme Court (Practice & Procedure) Act, 2023, which mandates a committee of senior judges to constitute benches for handling constitutional matters and suo motu notices.

After Attorney General Usman Mansoor completed his arguments, the full court had reserved judgment on the petitions against the Practice and Procedure Act.

Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, while delivering the verdict, expressed regret for the delay and mentioned that the matter was quite technical.

He said that the Supreme Court bench upheld the petitions regarding the Supreme Court Practice and Procedure Act and ruled that the Act would remain in force. The full court upheld the Act with a majority verdict of 10-5.

Justices Ajaz-ul-Hasan, Manib Akhtar, Ayesha Malik, Mazhar Naqvi, and Shahid Wahid dissented against the Act, while the rest of the judges ruled in favour of the Act and dismissed the petitions against the Supreme Court Practice and Procedure Act.

The Chief Justice of Pakistan also noted that, with a majority of 8-7, sub-section 2 of section 5 of the act, which pertains to retroactively granting the right of appeal, has been deemed ‘ultra vires,’ meaning it is in violation of the Constitution.

The court said that the Act is according to the Constitution and it is sustained. The bench said that the law is “sustained as being constitutional”.

The full court bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa heared the petitions. Other members of the larger bench were Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Aminuddin Khan, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Ayesha A. Malik, Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi, Justice Shahid Waheed and Justice Musarrat Hilali.

The case had been closely watched by legal experts, civil society, and the general public, with many seeing it as a pivotal moment in Pakistan’s legal history. The outcome of this case is likely to have far-reaching consequences for the functioning of the Supreme Court and the broader legal landscape in the country.

The previous government, led by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), introduced the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act, of 2023, with the aim of limiting the chief justice’s authority to form benches.

Read more: Supreme Court to resume Practice and Procedure Act case today

The parliament passed this bill earlier in the year. However, an eight-judge panel, which included former Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, temporarily halted the implementation of the bill due to three petitions challenging it.

The Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill, 2023, has several objectives, such as assigning the authority to take suo motu notices to a three-member committee of senior judges, with the chief justice among them.

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