National Assembly Passes Bill to Cut Powers of CJP

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly approved the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023 on Wednesday, which aims to limit the power of the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) to take suo motu notice in an individual capacity. The proposed amendments were presented by Federal Minister for Law and Justice Azam Nazeer Tarar and were passed shortly after the Standing Committee on Law and Justice approved the cabinet’s proposed changes.

The bill was met with mixed reactions. PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari commented that it was “too little and too late” and suggested it should be called a “judges empowerment” bill. Meanwhile, Tarar argued that the changes do not require a constitutional amendment, citing Article 191 of the Constitution that empowers the Assembly to legislate. He also noted that the Supreme Court had been operating under the same rules since 1980.

North Waziristan MNA Mohsin Dawar submitted some amendments that were accepted. Tarar also thanked the NA Standing Committee on Law and Justice for their contributions to the bill, which he said aimed to make the proceedings of the apex court more transparent and included the right to appeal. He added that the bill was a long-standing demand of bar councils, which called for a halt to the indiscriminate use of Article 184(3).

Tarar acknowledged Bilawal’s remarks, but stressed that there was a “right time for everything” and the government waited until a voice from within the courts emerged. He also mentioned that all six bar councils in Pakistan had shown support for the bill.

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