New Delhi: Pakistan’s Senate on Thursday passed a bill to curtail the powers of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and set up benches amid strong opposition. Law and Justice Minister Azam Nazir Tarar introduced the ‘Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill, 2023’ in the Senate on Thursday, a day after it was passed by the National Assembly.
Senators from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf opposed the bill, saying it violated the constitution as cases involving the Supreme Court could be settled by amending the constitution with a one-third majority.
PTI Senator Ali Zafar said during the debate, “You cannot change the system of the Supreme Court through a law passed with a simple majority.” They also demanded that the bill be sent to a bipartisan Senate committee for discussion before being put to a vote.
PTI senators opposed the government’s move
However, their demand was rejected and after being signed by the President, the bill was passed to come close to becoming law. PTI senators opposed the move and Ali Zafar warned that it would be challenged in the Supreme Court.
The Bill states that every cause, matter, or appeal before the apex court shall be heard and disposed of by a bench constituted towards the Chief Justice and a committee of two senior-most judges. It states that the decisions of the committee will be taken by the majority.
Opponents allege – the government is doing this to suppress the judiciary
At present, the Chief Justice decides on the use of suo motu powers and also constitutes various benches to hear cases. The new law was introduced when two judges of the Supreme Court questioned the suo motu (own) powers of the country’s top judge. It is being said in political circles that the government is using the internal rift in the top judiciary to stifle the Chief Justice’s wings.