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Judges don’t hear cases with preconceived notions: CJP

Judges don’t hear cases with preconceived notions: CJP

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakis­tan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial on Wednes­day asked Attorney General for Pakis­tan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan to convey to his colleagues not to use grating words against judges inside the aug­ust forums, or while standing outside the gates of Supreme Court building.

“We did not sit in the bench with pre-conceived notions but with open mind for higher ideals,” observed CJP Bandial while heading a three-judge Supreme Court bench hearing ECP’s petition seeking to revisit April 4 verdict of fixing May 14 elections date for the Punjab Assembly.

Apparently, the CJP was referring to the recent PDM-sponsored sit-in on Constitution Avenue that demanded his immediate resignation, right in front of the gates meant exclusively for the use of judges to enter or exit the SC building, as well as certain harsh speeches of lawmakers on the floor of the National Assembly.

The observation came when the attorney general at the outset of the proceedings tried to explain that judges’ observations a day earlier created a wrong impression when reported by the media.

Asks ECP why it failed to apprise president about ground realities; bench examines limit of SC power while hearing review plea

The CJP, however, noted that the AGP did not need to offer any explanation as the court always welcomed whosoever appeared before it by extending courtesies and saying “good to see you”.

“We as judges always sit in the bench with clean heart,” the CJP observed, saying the court observations were often ‘misconstrued’ by the media. It was suggested as if Mercedes Benz of CJP Bandial was used to transport PTI Chairman Imran Khan on May 11 when the court summoned him and then declared his arrest on the premises of Islamabad High Court illegal.

“It was in fact the police which had arranged the vehicle,” the CJP made it clear, adding that he had never used the Mercedes car.

On Wednesday, the CJP reiterated that the government raised the controversy of a four-to-three majority decision, but the court was happy that fresh and substantive legal points have now been raised in the present case. The court always attentively listens to whenever rational points were highlighted before it, to come to a right decision, he observed.

When the AGP insisted that he had already raised the points that the court believed were new, the CJP remarked whenever ‘new points’ were raised it was discussed threadbare in court with queries from the bench. Pointing to ECP counsel Sajeel Shaharyar Swati, the CJP regretted that commission’s interest lay elsewhere as it never argued on the points being raised this time. The CJP explained the main emphasis earlier was on objections regarding the constitution of the benches.

“It is very easy for us to say you have missed the boat, but we have not said so since the rights of the people were involved and the court decides in accordance with the law and the Constitution.” Otherwise, the present matter was a two-minute case, he asserted.

While referring to March 1 and March 22 letters of the ECP to President Dr Arif Alvi in compliance with the Supreme Court verdict for the announcement of a date for the Punjab Assembly elections, the CJP regretted that the commission did not apprise the president about ground realities or the requirements needed for holding of the elections.

The court always supported the ECP for being a constitutional body but when the constitution granted authority to someone, it should be exercised with eyes and mind open, he explained.

Earlier, Mr Swati emphasised that vast powers had been vested with the Supreme Court so that no impediment should halt the process of justice. He said the framers of the SC Rules consciously took away proceedings initiated under constitutional provisions like Article 184(3).

He said he was ardent supporter of the fact that the jurisdiction of the SC hearing the review petition on issues earlier taken under Article 184(3) should be expanded for doing complete justice as it was the last arbiter of justice.

Justice Munib Akhtar, however, observed that the counsel did raise a new point. But the bench also needed to consider its consequences, he said, adding that if Rule 1 of Order 26 of the SC Rules, 1980, was ignored, then there would be no limit and someone after a couple of decades might come before the court with a request to hear review of a case initiated under Article 184(3) decided many years ago.

The counsel remarked the apex court never imposed impediments in its way while initiating a case under suo motu power.

The point being examined was how much expansive power the SC should have on review petitions, observed Justice Ijaz-u-Ahsan, explaining that if the apex court added additional rule concerning revisiting the orders taken under Article 184(3), then such a power was akin to the power of appeal.

“You are asking us to read something new that is not there in the rules,” he noted.

The case will be taken up again on Thursday.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2023

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