ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Qazi Faez Isa on Monday took strong exception to practice being adopted by lawyers seeking unnecessary adjournments and made it clear that from now on no adjournment will be granted.
The CJP was heading a three-member bench hearing a matter relating to a land dispute. During the course of hearing, when a counsel sought adjournment in the matter, the chief justice rejected his plea with an observation that the practice of seeking adjournments has come to an end.
“Get this out of your mind that adjournment will be granted in cases from now on,” the CJP told the counsel, adding that there are a lot of pending cases in the Supreme Court. Justice Isa remarked that that in any case, now a notice will be issued to the parties on a single hearing and a decision will be taken on arguments on next date of hearing.
Through this case he was sending a message to everyone that adjournment in cases will not be granted anymore, the CJP added. He observed that time is given in other courts for the submission of documents related to cases but the Supreme Court is the last court of resort where records of all cases were submitted beforehand.
Meanwhile, the chief justice, while hearing another matter heading the same bench disposed of a case related to property dispute as withdrawn. During the hearing, an interesting conversation was held between Justice Isa and the petitioner, a senior citizen.
When the chief justice asked the petitioner, Sibghat Ullah Khan, about his counsel, the petitioner replied that lawyers were very expensive, adding that he didn’t want to further pursue the case as he had made a settlement with the parties hence he wanted to withdraw the case. The court disposed of the case as withdrawn. The senior citizen also congratulated Justice Isa on becoming the Chief Justice of Pakistan. The CJP also thanked the senior citizen, requesting him to remember him in his prayers.
Meanwhile, a full court comprising all the 15 judges of the apex court headed by CJP Qazi Faez Isa heard on September 18, identical petitions, challenging the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023.
In pursuance of the Full Court’s direction, Khwaja Tariq Rahim, counsel for the petitioners Raja Aamir Khan and Chaudhry Ghulam Hussain, submitted his written reply to the court’s queries. The hearing was aired through live broadcast on the national hookup, and was also aired by various TV channels.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and others had challenged the constitutionality of federal legislation, being the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023.
The previous coalition government had enacted Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023 aimed at curtailing the powers of suo motu jurisdiction of Chief Justice of Pakistan as well as constitution of benches through a three-member committee headed by chief justice along with two senior most judges of the apex court.
Earlier, during the hearing held on September 18, a number of queries were raised by different members of the bench and the counsel and the AG sought time to submit written replies.
The court then had directed them as well as any other counsel/ party that they may submit their replies/ submissions by or before September 25.
Zahid Ibrahim, on behalf of Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PMLQ), also filed a reply in the case and supported the impugned Act.
He prayed the full court to dismiss all the identical petitions filed against Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023.
The counsel contended that the Act has not reduced the administrative powers of the Supreme Court but has increased it, adding that the Act has promoted the independence of judiciary.
In his reply submitted before the court, Khwaja Tariq Rahim on behalf of the petitioners prayed the court to set aside the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023 after declaring it as an interference in the internal matters of the apex court.
The counsel submitted that the Act while reducing the administrative powers of the CJP has regulated the affairs of the country’s highest court, adding that Parliament was not competent to regulate the affairs of the apex court.
“Independence of the judiciary is the basic part of the Constitution, hence it cannot be tempered with”, the counsel submitted, adding that the Constitution has clearly mentioned the trichotomy of powers including the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary; therefore, no institution could encroach upon the other institution.
The counsel contended that this law is against the principle of trichotomy of powers, adding that although Parliament is supreme law making body, however, it could not regulate the affairs of the Supreme Court.
Rahim submitted that the Act has changed the procedure for examining the cases to be taken under Article 184(3) of the Constitution by constituting a three-member committee headed by the CJP and two senior judges of the apex court
“The Act cannot change this procedure as the Supreme Court has already framed Rules in 1980 for regulating its affairs,” the counsel contended, adding that only a full court can make changes in these rules.
The counsel further submitted that an amendment has been made through a simple piece of legislation giving the right of appeal against the decisions taken by the apex court while exercising its original jurisdiction under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.
“Parliament cannot make amendment in the Constitution by a simple legislation,” the counsel contended and prayed the full court to set aside the impugned Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023 for being an interference in the internal affairs of the Supreme Court.