SC clubs together pleas against review of judgments law, Punjab polls orderPakistan
A three-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday clubbed together pleas against the recently-passed Supreme Court (Review of Judgments and Orders) Act 2023 with the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) petition asking the top court to revisit its April 4 order of holding polls to the Punjab Assembly on May 14.
The decision was taken as the bench — comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar — took up the ECP’s review petition.
At the previous hearing, Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan had surprised judges by disclosing that fresh legislation, which expanded the jurisdiction of the court by giving a right to appeal under Article 184(3), had come into force.
According to the Supreme Court (Review of Judgments and Orders) Act 2023, the scope of review will be similar to Article 185, which confers appellate jurisdiction to the top court.
Upon the AGP’s revelation, the SC had adjourned proceedings on the ECP’s petition, saying the new law would be discussed in court.
During today’s hearing, CJP Bandial remarked that a number of pleas against the new law had been filed with the top court and decided to hear them alongside the ECP’s review petition.
He also issued notices to the federal government, AGP Awan, the president through the principal secretary, Ministry for Parliamentary Affairs and Secretariat Senate.
At the outset of the hearing today, the bench called PTI’s Barrister Ali Zafar to the rostrum and asked his stance on the review of judgments law.
“The new law is inconsistent with the Constitution and is a continuation of the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act, 2023,” the lawyer replied.
Zafar also suggested that the SC should continue hearing the ECP’s review petition, saying he had prepared his arguments against the commission’s plea. “The court can simultaneously also hear pleas against the review of judgments law.
“If the review point persists, a larger bench can be constituted,” he added.
Here, Justice Bandial remarked that the court had to look into the law at one point or the other.
Meanwhile, Justice Akhtar observed that if the review law was applicable to the ECP petition, the electoral body’s lawyer would have to again present his arguments before the larger bench.
“How can the court continue hearing the Punjab polls case if the Supreme Court (Review of Judgments and Orders) Act 2023 has come into place? Is the new law not applicable to this case? Do you think the ECP’s petition should be heard as per the old law?” the judge asked Zafar.
The PTI lawyer replied that the case should, at the moment, be head as per the previous law.
More to follow