Not to accept constitution of SC’s 8-member bench

ISLAMABAD (APP): The coalition government on Thursday called upon Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial to constitute a full-court bench to hear pleas against the ‘Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill, 2023’.
Speaking in a news conference, Federal Minister for Law and Justice Senator Azam Nazeer Tarar,Adviser to Prime Minister on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira, Kamran Murtaza of the JUI, ANP leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain, MQM-Pakistan (MQM-P) Syed Aminul Haque, Senator Tahir Bizenjo of BNP emphasized that a collective wisdom approach is essential for the decision-making process.
Speaking on the occasion, Federal Minister for Law and Justice Senator Azam Nazeer Tarar urged the chief justice to dissolve the larger bench as the coalition parties, bar councils from across the country and legal fraternity had repeatedly asked the latter to form a full court bench to hear the case. The law minister termed the current situation alarming and said that a “selective bench has been formed”. He said the two senior judges of the apex court had not been included in the bench. “There is lack of representation from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan among the judges on the bench,” he added.
The minister was of the view that a conflict of interest existed as the case involved the question of the chief justice using his own powers in taking suo motu notices and constituting benches. He claimed that all the rules of the apex court prohibited the chief justice from leading the bench. All provincial bar councils had unanimously expressed their disagreement with the current bench, he added.
The minister said that all the coalition partners agreed that it was not the right time to take up pleas against the bill as it had not yet been legislated. Speaking on this occasion, PPP leader and Advisor to Prime Minister on Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira that nobody could prevent the parliament from using its authority and the incumbent government would not compromise or accept it.
“Do you want to prevent the Parliament from using its authority? We will not accept it,” Kaira asserted. He said that the rifts among institutions were leading the country towards a bad situation. “We only want the benches to be constituted in a balanced and proper manner,” he added. Senator Kamran Murtaza of JUI-F said that the inclusion of junior judges in the bench was also not appropriate which would harm the sanctity and prestige of the Supreme Court.
He said there should be some criteria for the fixation of the cases. Mian Iftikhar Hussain of ANP said a well-organized campaign was underway against the Parliament. He said the objective of Supreme Court Practice and Procedure Bill, 2023 was to ensure balance in the power of the judges. He said Parliament was supreme, and its supremacy would have to be accepted. He urged the Chief Justice to review the formation of the bench for the sake of the country, Parliament and judiciary.
In his remarks Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Amin-ul- Hauq vowed that no one would be allowed to cause the supremacy of the Parliament compromised. It was the only forum having absolute Constitutional authority and powers to run the state affairs by making necessary legislation. The minister said the 1973 Constitution was supreme and chained all the federating units with each other.
“Our struggle is for the supremacy of the Parliament, freedom of judiciary, impartially and strengthening of democracy,” he added. Senator Tahir Bizenjo of National Party said the formation of a “selected bench” may prove to be dangerous for the country. He asked the CJP to ensure the representation of small federating units on the bench.
Balochistan National Party (Mengal) leader and Minister of State for Power Hashim Notezai said Pakistan was already facing an economic crisis and could not afford more crises. He also urged the CJP to form a full court with the representation of all the federating units to decide the matter. Leader Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party Shafiq Tareen said the formation of “controversial bench” was creating the impression of confrontation among the institutions. Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) leader and Minister for Defence Production Israr Tareen said the purpose of politics was to ensure the supremacy of the democratic system and his party would continue its efforts for upholding the constitution.