What will be the fate of the Supreme Court (practice and procedure) Bill 2023, if enacted as an act of Parliament?


 By: Mr. Khan Ghaffar Khan

The Government has responded to the activism of judiciary by its legislative functions. This time it has made an attempt to clap down wings of Supreme Court judges in deciding what should be the rules of procedure to the powers of the Court under the constitution.

The bill, as tabled by the government, and sent for the presidential assent before it finally becomes an act of parliament; introduces several modifications to the current scheme of rules dealing with the procedure of the Supreme Court. As of latest, and according to the rules of the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice is the principal authority on the subject of enacting rules for the court’s procedure for the exercise of its constitutional jurisdiction under article 184 of the constitution of Pakistan, 1973. The right to make rules of the procedure is manifestly assigned to the court under article 191 of the constitution.

Under the rules, the supreme court decides who is competent to take suo moto notice on cases of public importance, constitute benches and fix timeframe for appeals before it inter alia other things.

By virtue of the proposed bill, the government, being the executive organ of the state has tried to control and curb the aforementioned power of the Supreme Court especially, the chief justice of Pakistan on the premise that such reforms are needful, timely and call of the day.

However, there are two aspects that warrant immediate critical assessment; legal aspect and the political one.

If we talk about the legal first; the basic question to answer is whether an act of parliament can modify the structure already laid down by the constitution. That is to say: the proposed act will change Supreme court’s existing rules of procedure that are made by the Court itself as commanded by the constitution under art.191.

On this matter, the constitution is very clear; to alter, add, substitute, or modify the constitutional clause, a 2/3rd of the majority of parliament will be needed to pass a constitutional amendment. It is then only will the constitution stand modified as anything less than that is the contravention of the criteria to change the constitutional framework.

On the basis of the aforementioned legal overview, it seems highly ostensible that the proposed bill is an act of legislative overreach and bereft of any legality, therefore, unlawful, unconstitutional and void ab intio in the sight of law. This may likely be the word of the Supreme Court, if it is made into an act and challenged before the Court on account of its legality.


As for the political aspect, the current political situation is the offshoot of the political chaos that has gripped Pakistan since the ouster of former Prime Minister Imran Khan. Each of the political group is advancing their own agenda in disregard of the law and of the national interest of Pakistan.


The economic situation is heading towards collapse while government strategy does not seem to be working to restore semblance of sagacity in economic affairs of the state. Only what is rampant is the practice of sticking to power by hook or crook.


Historically, every political party has tried to influence the Supreme Court to facilitate their bid to power. If the court rebukes their unlawful actions, these parties resort to violence and adopt resilience to law at the cost of nation already overtaxed by the perpetuating crisis.


Similar is the situation today; the PDM government does not want to conduct the elections on time stipulated by the constitution in matter concerning provinces. They are doing this in fear of losing ground to the opposition raised by PTI leveraging over inflation and other important issues of public outcry.


Whatever be the intentions, it is certain that the country has struck in a quagmire that is the result of the collision of political interest of various groups. It is also quite definite that with every passing minute Pakistan is losing.


To avert any further descend, it is imperative on all the stakeholders to resort to the constitution and with sincere conviction to save the motherland, do a compromise in the favor of the country. Because politics is only possible when you have sound and stable country. No one would want to rule over country with civil war!



                           The writer is a lawyer and a columnist


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