SC strikes down ‘Review of Judgement and Orders Act 2023’
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday struck down the Review of Judgement and Orders Act 2023, declaring it unconstitutional.
A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar, announced the verdict reserved on June 19.
Ghulam Mohiuddin, Zaman Khan Vardag, the Jurists Foundation, through its CEO Riaz Hanif Rahi, and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had challenged the the act, passed by parliament in May.
The SC declared the set of pleas challenging the Supreme Court (Review of Judgments and Orders) Act 2023 as admissible for hearing. The SC in its order said that the parliament has “overstepped its boundaries.”
The apex court held that the act is in direct conflict with the Constitution of Pakistan, asserting that parliament exceeded its jurisdiction in enacting this law.
The Supreme Court deemed the Review of Judgments and Orders Act as lacking any legal standing, asserting that Parliament overstepped its authority by passing such legislation. The court underscored that the act does not possess any legal legitimacy. The decision further emphasized that Parliament had transgressed its defined bounds.
Moreover, the Supreme Court has accepted constitutional petitions against the new law that grants the right to appeal against the court’s decisions, thereby allowing challenges against the Supreme Court’s verdicts.
Justice Maneeb Akhtar added supplementary notes to the decision, highlighting the need for legislative measures to be in alignment with the constitution.
This pivotal judgment was reached after six hours of deliberation and was announced on June 19. The Review of Judgments and Orders Act consists of seven sections. Under Section 1, it will be referred to as the “Supreme Court (Review of Judgments and Orders) Act 2023.”
Section 2 expands the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction to review matters of public interest and allows appeals to be heard against judgments related to public interest cases. As per Section 3, the bench hearing a review will have a greater number of judges compared to central cases.
It said that section 4 permits any affected party to represent themselves in the review proceedings without the need for a Supreme Court lawyer. Section 5 dictates that the act will apply to all previous matters falling under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.
Under Section 6, it said the aggrieved party will be able to file an appeal within 60 days of the application of the act. Finally, as stated in Section 7, the act’s application will be all-encompassing, regardless of existing laws, regulations, or judicial precedents.
The top court verdict on these petitions is important for former premier Nawaz Sharif and Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party chief Jahangir Tareen as it will impact the fate of their political ambitions.
Both leaders were seeking to challenge their lifetime disqualifications in the wake of upcoming general elections, following the completion of the National Assembly’s tenure.
The Supreme Court (Review of Judgments and Orders) Act 2023 aims to amend rules to allow convicts/aggrieved to file review (appeals) against the apex court’s orders.
The statement of the objects and reasons of the law mentions that it is necessary to ensure fundamental rights to justice by providing for meaningful review of judgements and orders passed by the SC in the exercise of its original jurisdiction under Article 184.
During hearings, Attorney General for Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan had asked the court to dismiss the pleas against the law, arguing that it broadens the court’s jurisdiction rather than curbing its powers.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf lawyer Ali Zafar, representing Secretary General Omar Ayub, had maintained that a change in the apex’s powers could not be made through legislation alone and required a constitutional amendment.