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Friday May 24, 2024

Parliament's powers cannot be usurped: NA resolution

Resolution rejects "aggressive attempt by the SC to usurp the parliament's authority"

By Asif Bashir Chaudhary
April 14, 2023
A view of the National Assembly in session. — APP/File
A view of the National Assembly in session. — APP/File

A day after the Supreme Court halted the implementation of a bill limiting the powers of the chief justice, the National Assembly on Friday unanimously passed a resolution stating, in categorical terms, that parliament's prerogative of legislation cannot be usurped.

The resolution moved by Pakistan Peoples Party's (PPP) Ali Musa Gillani rejected "the aggressive attempt by the Supreme Court to usurp the parliament's authority".

The resolution expressed concerns that one organ of the state on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee celebrations of 1973 blatantly violated the Constitution which itself is an undesirable practice. According to the Constitution, no institution can interfere in the affairs of others, it added.

A day earlier, the eight-member larger bench of the apex court ordered that even if the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023 received the assent of the president, the bill would not be acted upon in any manner till further order.

“The moment that the Bill receives the assent of the President or (as the case may be) it is deemed that such assent has been given, then from that very moment onwards and till further orders, the Act that comes into being shall not have, take or be given any effect nor be acted upon in any manner,” read the interim order.

The house, through its resolution, made it clear that powers rest with parliament to approve or reject the budget, money bill, financial matters and the release of resources. 

It said no other institution can neither take over this authority from parliament nor can it suspend or cancel it. “Doing so will amount to violating the fundamental concept of the constitution,” it added.

The resolution also voiced its concerns over fixing a case against Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure Bill) bill, which is yet to be enacted, for hearing before a controversial and unilateral eight-member bench, saying this has added another black chapter in the country's history. It said this contrary to Constitution and law practice, which demonstrates haste, is condemnable.

The resolution rejected the bench saying its decision cannot be considered a valid one. It directed the federal government to carefully examine this blatant breach of the Constitution and take steps as per the law for its rectification.

Meanwhile, the NA passed the “Supreme Court Review of Judgements and Orders Bill 2023”, aimed at facilitating and strengthening the apex court in the exercise of its powers to review its judgements and orders.

The bill was moved by ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawmaker Shaza Fatima Khawaja.

The bill suggests that a person who files a review petition should be allowed to hire the services of a lawyer of their choice. It also proposes that it is allowed to file the review petition within 60 days after the verdict is issued.

Speaking on the occasion, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar said that legislation is the prerogative of parliament which has never interfered in the affairs of other institutions. He said this bill will facilitate the litigants and also strengthen the judiciary.

Minister for Power Khurram Dastagir said this piece of legislation does not infringe upon the independence of the judiciary. “Through this legislation, we want to ensure that there is greater transparency in the procedures of the apex court.”

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said: “We want to strengthen the hands of the judiciary so that the people get speedy justice.” He added that parliament is the mother of democracy.

He said that the remarks made by Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir during an in-camera briefing on the security situation regarding this house as well as the office of the prime minister are welcoming.

Asif also stressed that parliament has never trespassed in the territory of other institutions and “we also do not want to trespass in our institution”.

The house also passed the Code of Civil Procedure Amendment Bill, 2023 and the National Accountability Amendment Bill, 2023. The bills were moved by the law minister.