Friday June 14, 2024

PBC backs new law as SCBA opposes it

By our correspondents
March 30, 2023

KARACHI/LAHORE: The legal community has been clearly divided on the bill passed by the National Assembly concerning the exercise of suo motu jurisdiction by the Supreme Court under Article 184(3) of the Constitution. The Pakistan Bar Council besides Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan bars have carried out an unannounced boycott of the All Pakistan Lawyers Convention in Lahore.

On Wednesday, the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) appreciated the passage of the bill through the National Assembly.

PBC Vice Chairman Haroon-ur-Rasheed and Chairman Executive Committee Hassan Raza Pasha said the Council had time and again demanded that criteria should be laid down in respect of suo motu jurisdiction. They said through this amendment, the right of appeal in cases decided under Article 184(3) would be available and it would be beneficial for the litigants and public.

They said the mechanism for fixation of petitions/cases of urgent nature within 14 days after their filing would be beneficial for the public at large and the litigants whose cases were not being fixed for an indefinite period.

They further appreciated and commended the federal government upon passing the “Lawyer’s Protection & Welfare Bill-2023”, which was solely for the safety and protection of legal practitioners.

They said the proposed draft was handed over to prime minister by a delegation of the Pakistan Bar Council and the representatives of provincial/Islamabad bar councils in May 2022; it was the long standing demand of the legal fraternity and need of the hour for safety, protection and welfare of lawyers.

They also hoped that the Senate will approve the said bills as early as possible.

The Sindh Bar Council (SBC) also lauded the proposed Supreme Court (practice and procedure) Bill 2023.

Adopting a resolution, the council was of the view that this step shall strengthen the independence of the judiciary and bring greater transparency in its working and improve the common man’s access to justice.

The bar said it was their demand that the power to initiate suo motu should be structured and regulated and not depend on the individual whim of the chief justice. Besides, the power to form benches should also be structured and regulated and all judges of the SC should be treated equally, it added.

The bar said unfortunately many of these issues had been raised by the chief justices and judges of the court.

The SBC also appreciated the judgment authored by the Supreme Court judges Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel in which they raised important questions about the independence of the judiciary and the need to ensure that the SC operates as an institution and not merely as a one-man show.

Meanwhile, the All Pakistan Lawyers Convention held at Lahore High Court on Wednesday expressed its full support to the Supreme Court and condemned the conduct of those who took steps to violate what they called clear provisions of the Constitution for holding elections within the prescribed time limit of 90 days.

President Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Abid Zuberi, President Lahore High Court Bar Association Ishtiaq A Khan and Vice President LHCBA Rabia Bajwa spoke on the occasion.

Thousands of lawyers from all over Pakistan joined the session showing their full support to the Supreme Court.

Member Pakistan Bar Council Shafqat Chohan and lawyers prominent leader Hamid Khan also addressed the convention. A resolution was also passed on the occasion. The resolution — comprising eight points — said, “We fully support the interpretation of the Supreme Court regarding such provisions of the Constitution and demand that the ECP and other constitutional authorities concerned implement the apex court judgment in letter and spirit. “The ECP has no power and authority to postpone the elections beyond the time limit prescribed by the Constitution and its attempt to do so is clearly unconstitutional and highly condemnable.” The convention strongly condemned the attack on the Supreme Court judges for gaining political advantage and with an intent to violate the Constitution. “The lawyers are deeply disturbed over the differences among the judges of the Supreme Court coming out so publicly because that can damage the sanctity and respect of the judiciary as a prime institution under the Constitution,” the resolution said.

“This convention calls upon the Chief Justice of Pakistan to exercise leadership by bringing all the judges of the Supreme Court on board to ensure that such differences are resolved amicably in the larger interest of the institution and that the dignity and integrity of the Supreme Court is ensured in the larger national interest.” Lastly, the resolution called upon all the bar councils and bar associations throughout Pakistan to act independently without any pressure or influence of any political party or politician in order to ensure their independent stance and posture. The lawyers vowed to stand united for the supremacy of the Constitution, rule of law and independence of the judiciary.