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Wednesday May 22, 2024

Justice Afridi questions logic behind election date suo motu

Apex court judge has recused himself from bench hearing the poll date suo motu

By Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui
February 27, 2023
Justice Yahya Afridi. — Courtesy SC website
Justice Yahya Afridi. — Courtesy SC website

ISLAMABAD: Justice Yahya Afridi of the Supreme Court (SC), one of the four judges of the top court who dissociated themselves from the larger bench, raised objections to invoke suo motu jurisdiction by the chief justice related to the elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab.

In his additional note, made public on Monday along with the court order on the February 23 hearing, the apex court judge questioned the logic behind taking the suo motu notice despite the fact that the matter was pending before the high court in Punjab and KP.

Justice Afridi also recused himself from the nine-member bench hearing the case after which a new five-judge bench was constituted headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial.

“For detailed reasons to be recorded later, it appears that prima facie these petitions fall within the purview of Article 184(3) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973. However, it would not be judicially appropriate to exercise the power to make an order under the aforementioned provision of the constitution given that the matters raised in the petitions are presently pending adjudication before the Lahore High Court (LHC) in Intra-Court Appeal No. 11096 of 2023, Contempt of Court Petition No. 10468/W/2023, and the Peshawar High Court in Writ Petition No. 407-P/2023.”

While noting that the jurisdiction under Article 184(3) is “not affected by the pendency” of any matter before any other court or forum, the LHC verdict and “peculiarly charged and unflinching contested political stances” taken by the parties, warrant this court to show “judicial restraint” to bolster the principle of propriety.

The judge further added that this is to avoid any adverse reflection on the Supreme Court’s judicial pre-emptive eagerness to decide.

“Therefore, passing any finding or remarks during the proceeding of the present petitions by this court would not only prejudice the contested claims of the parties in the said petition/appeal pending before the respective high courts but, more importantly, offend the hierarchical judicial domain of the high court as envisaged under the Constitution. It would also disturb the judicial propriety that the high court deserves in the safe, mature, and respectful administration of justice. Accordingly, I dismiss these three petitions.”

“Having decided that exercising powers under Article 184(3) of the Constitution in the present three petitions pending before us would not be appropriate, I find that my continuing to hear the said petitions is of no avail. However, I leave it to the worthy chief justice to decide my retention in the present bench hearing the said petitions.”