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Senate passes SC bill despite opposition protest

ISLAMABAD: On Thursday, the Senate passed the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill, 2023, which limits the chief justice of Pakistan’s discretionary powers to take suo motu notice.

The bill was introduced in the Senate today after being approved by the National Assembly the day before. The bill was approved by at least 60 senators, with 19 lawmakers voting against it.

A motion to refer the bill to the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice for further debate was presented before the final vote on the bill, but it was defeated. The motion for the bill’s urgent approval was then presented, and it was approved by a majority of lawmakers.

Following the bill’s introduction in the Senate, Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar explained that the proposed law gives the right to appeal in suo motu cases and to appoint a different lawyer in the appeals.

However, Opposition Leader Dr. Shahzad Waseem slammed the bill, claiming that the government is unable to ensure smooth wheat distribution and is planning to make rules for the Supreme Court.

“Making Supreme Court rules is an indirect attack (on the judiciary. “You are attempting to divide the Supreme Court,” Dr. Waseem claimed. He also stated that the bill did not mention the right to appeal previously and that the right to appeal was later granted in the standing committee on previous cases.

“Give the bill to the committee and let it make its changes,” said a senator from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), calling for a vote on the issue.

PTI senators stage a protest in the upper house during the opposition leader’s speech.

When PTI Senator Ali Zafar was given the floor, he expressed two concerns about the bill.

“In 184/3, only constitutional amendments are permitted.” If you pass laws in this manner, they will be overturned within 15 days,” warned the senator. He went on to say that the right to appeal can only be granted by the Constitution.

According to Zafar, the Senate’s standing committee sent a constitutional amendment granting the right to appeal. He also warned that by reopening old cases, the Supreme Court would be forced to hear thousands of cases all over again.

“There is also disagreement among lawyers about this bill.” Such changes cannot be made without amending the Constitution,” Zafar explained. He also stated that some of the changes proposed by the bill are illegal.

The senator also objected to the bill’s timing, citing the ongoing election suo motu in the Supreme Court.

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