Senate passes SC bill clipping CJP’s powers amid Opposition’s protest


Bill passed by a majority, with 60 votes in favour and 19 against

Ijaz Kakakhel

Following the National Assembly, the upper house of parliament on Thursday passed with majority vote the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023 tabled by the law minister, which aims to deprive the office of the chief justice of Pakistan of powers to take suo motu notice in an individual capacity.

The bill was moved in the Senate after it was approved by the National Assembly a day earlier. At least 60 senators approved the bill while 19 lawmakers voted against it.

Before the final vote on the bill, a motion was presented to send the bill to the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice for further debate but it was rejected. The motion for the urgent approval of the bill was then presented which was accepted by a majority of lawmakers.

Once the bill was tabled in the Senate, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar explained that the proposed law is providing the right to appeal in suo motu cases and to appoint a different lawyer in the appeals.

However, Leader of the Opposition Dr Shahzad Waseem slammed the bill saying that the government is unable to ensure a smooth distribution of wheat and planning to make rules for the Supreme Court.

“Making rules for the Supreme Court is an indirect attack (on the judiciary. You are trying to create division in the Supreme Court,” claimed Dr Waseem. He added that the bill did not talk about the right of appeal before and later in the standing committee the right to appeal was also given on previous cases.

“Give the bill to the committee and let it bring its changes,” said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) senator and called for a vote on the matter. As the opposition leader was making his speech, the PTI senators hold a strong, protest in the upper house. In the meanwhile, security staff of the Senate made a protective fence between treasury and opposition lawmakers. After that the bill was presented in the house for voting. The bill was passed by the house with majority votes.

Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar, while presenting the bill in the Senate, said, “Law can never be stagnant. The minister lamented that due to suo motu notices, the state had to incur losses worth billions of dollars. He mentioned losses faced by the government in the Steel Mills and the Reko Diq agreement. The liver hospital also was an example of excessive use of suo motu powers, he said.

Mr Tarar said voices had arisen from the various bar bodies and the Senate that the “jurisdiction of Article 106 of the Constitution be restructured at least” so that it would reflect “collective thinking”.

Besides, the House passed two more bills. These included: The Lawyers Welfare and Protection Bill, 2023 and “and “The Inter Boards Coordination Commission Bill, 2023”.

“The Pakistan Maritime Zones Bill, 2023” and “The Pir Roshaan Institute of Progressive Sciences and Technologies, Miranshah Bill, 2023” were also introduced in the House.

After the bill was passed, the session was adjourned till 10:30am on Friday.