Islamabad: On 18 September 2023, full bench open court hearing was held first time in the history of Pakistan and almost all TV channels was live streaming the hearing on Practice and Procedure Bill case.
Newly appointed chief justice of Pakistan, Qazi Faez Isa took start by saying, “Apologies for the delay in starting the hearing, the reason for delaying the hearing was to show it lives.”
Full Bench Open Court Hearing First Time in Pakistan, Live Broadcasting
CJP further explained the case status in short, “In the Practice and Procedure Bill case, there are nine applications in the Supreme Court. As well as three applications for a full bench, including one from the Bar Council, there were three requests for a full bench.
Currently, the SC is considering the act and why it was struck down by the previous chief justice.
“Who will give the arguments in the Supreme Court on the Practice and Procedure Bill case?” asked the Chief Justice, while ordering a limited number of arguments.
According to him, there are some people who have not heard about the case, “The best solution to resolve the case was to make a full court on it”.
It is not written anywhere that Parliament’s powers are unlimited, the bench noted.
As Khawaja Tariq Rahim pointed out, the Federal Legislative List does not give Parliament the power to legislate for the Supreme Court. According to Article 191, the Supreme Court makes its own laws. It intervened in the rules of the Supreme Court, he said.
Supreme Court Full Court Hearing Today
Was the whole law wrong or just some clauses? The chief justice’s asked Khawaja Rahim.
“Can a single individual be given unlimited unaccountable power?” inquired Justice Athar Minullah, “How is regulating the powers of the Chief Justice a violation of fundamental rights?”
According to lawyer Imtiaz Siddiqui, the law is fine, but the procedure was wrongly adopted.
Justice Athar Minallah replied, “so clipping the unaccountable powers of the chief justice to decide on the benches is good, but if it is decided by the parliament then it is not okay. Is that your point?”
Rather than having the powers regulated by the judiciary, Imtiaz argued, the judiciary should have done so itself. He added, “This law cannot be passed by Parliament, full court can do it”.
According to Khawaja Rahim, the judiciary’s independence cannot be taken away under any circumstances, to which Justice Athar replied, “Do you want to say that the bench powers of the Chief Justice are valid?”
Justice Muneeb Akhtar asserted that Parliament is supreme and cannot be disrespected. He said, “The constitution says that independence of judiciary is a fundamental right, can parliament remove this right?”
Is the law of making a committee related to bench formation giving judicial power or administrative power? Justice Muneeb inquired, saying that “Can Parliament legislate on executive powers?”
The provision of a bench of at least 5 judges in constitutional cases was also included in the legislation, Khawaja Rahim said. In my view, Section 7 is against the Constitution and the law, he added.
The Supreme Court will not remain the Supreme Court if this interferes with the bill, a lawyer said
Qazi Faiz Isa, Chief Justice, said, “I have objection to the provision you object to.” If the Parliament had attacked our rights, we would have taken notice, the Chief Justice remarked. In our hundreds of questions, the real defendant will be lost, he added.
As the Chief Justice explained, I will present you with a hypothetical. You bring a case and the Chief Justice does not want to hear it. For instance, this case that you brought me today, if I say I do not want to hear the case, then what?”
“Along with internal freedom, accountability and transparency are also important, he said, adding, “Independence of the judiciary does not mean that a case should not be heard for ten years.”
“Be accountable to Allah before the Constitution”, Chief Justice Qazi Faiz Isa said. He said that the law offering the sole Chief Justice with the powers to whether accept a case or not is too much power. “Even if you give me such authority, I will not take it, which will expose the ego of the Chief Justice,” he said.
After conclusion of arguments by Khawaja Rahim, lawyer Imtiaz Siddiqui continued with the arguments in front of the full bench court. The Chief Justice inquired from Siddiqui, “What are the constitutional points which show that these Acts are illegal?”
He added that no word has been heard as to which provision of the Constitution the Act violates. No matter how good or bad the law is, we will not disrespect Parliament, said the Chief Justice.
The Justice Mansoor Ali Shah said that it is happening all over the world that no one person has authority anywhere in the world.