Senate passes bill regarding right of appeal in suo motu cases

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An aerial view of the National Assembly of Pakistan in Islamabad. — AFP/File

The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) led coalition government got the “Supreme Court Review of Judgments and Orders Bill 2023” — regarding the right of appeal in the suo motu cases — passed through the Senate, deepening the ongoing tussle between the judiciary and the legislature.

The bill — tabled by Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz’s (PML-N) Irfan ul Haque Siddiqui — was passed by a majority of 32 votes despite the opposition’s uproar.

The bill that aims to facilitate and strengthen the SC in the exercise of its powers to review its judgments and orders was earlier passed by the NA on April 14.

On April 10, the federal government also got the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill, 2023, passed in a joint session of parliament after President Arif Alvi returned the bill seeking to curtail the chief justice’s suo motu powers.

In his remarks today, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar alluded to Article 188 of the Constitution saying it empowers the SC subject to the provision of any Act of Majlis-e-Shoora and any rules made by the top court, to review any judgement pronounced or any order made by it. He said the latest legislation is procedural in nature.

The law minister said the bill has been formulated in accordance with the spirit of Article 188 of the constitution.

Key features of the bill:

  • It shall come into force at once.
  • In case of judgments and orders of the SC in exercise of its original jurisdiction under Article 184 of the Constitution, the scope of review on both facts and law, shall be the same as an appeal under Article 185 of the Constitution.
  • A review petition shall be heard by a bench larger than the bench which passed the original judgment or order.
  • The review petitioner shall have the right to appoint any advocate of the SC of his choice for the review petition.
  • The right to file a review petition shall also be available to an aggrieved person against whom an order has been made under clause (3) of Article 184 of the Constitution, prior to the commencement of this act. Provided that the review petition under this section shall be filed within sixty days of the commencement of this Act.
  • A review petition may be filed within sixty days of the passing of the original order.
  • The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, rules or regulations for the time being in force or judgment of any court including the Supreme Court and a High Court.