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SCBA set to propose changes in SC rules

ISLAMABAD: After the federal government tabled a constitutional amendment in parliament proposing right of appeal against decisions issued on suo motu notices, the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) is also considering recommending similar amendments to the rules governing the apex court.

“The Supreme Court Rules of 1980 need to be updated by adding a separate chapter in the rules book for regulating the use of suo motu proceedings under Article 184(3) of the Constitution,” said SCBA president Rashid A. Razvi while talking to Dawn.

Last month, the government moved in the National Assembly the 24th constitutional amendment that proposes right of appeal against SC decisions on suo motu notices or by invoking Article 184(3) of the Constitution.

The amendment suggests two new clauses in Article 184 (Original Jurisdiction of Supreme Court) by adding clauses (4 and 5) after Article 184 to give constitutional right to appeal to an aggrieved party against judgements of the apex court in suo motu cases in line with the principle of fundamental rights of the citizens.

Thus, any appeal preferred under clause (4) of Article 184 will be heard by a bench larger than the bench which had passed the earlier order.

The frequent use of suo motu powers during the period when Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was chief justice of Pakistan had raised eyebrows among the legal fraternity which repeatedly highlighted the need to determine limits or constraints for the exercise of suo motu jurisdiction, so that the judiciary’s credibility is not eroded.

Then some lawyers believed that excessive use of Article 184(3) of the Constitution under the concept of public interest litigation sometimes sealed the fate of the aggrieved party, particularly when a different issue cropped up in proceeding or a totally different aspect was brought to the notice of the court.

Mr Razvi said that the right to appeal against decisions on suo motu seemed a rightful move on the part of the government, adding that in a third world country like Pakistan, no curb should be imposed to discourage the Supreme Court from exercising its jurisdiction of suo motu.

“We intend to organise workshops and seminars by taking along the Pakistan Bar Council and other bar associations so that a solid recommendation is proposed,” said Mr Razvi.

One of the amendments the Supreme Court Rules urgently needed, he said, was to curtail the authority of the registrar office of returning a petition under Article 184(3) of the Constitution on the pretext that it did not fulfil the criteria of public importance or breach of any fundamental rights.

Such a decision should be made by a proper bench of the Supreme Court instead of the registrar, he stated.

Recently the petitions moved by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the Jamaat-i-Islami against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and members of his family for their alleged involvement in setting up off-shore companies as exposed by the Panama Papers were initially returned by the registrar office.

But the two petitions were cleared for hearing by a five-judge Supreme Court bench when Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali accepted the appeals.

courtesy : dawn news

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