The National Assembly passed the historic Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill, 2023 on Wednesday, which seeks to limit the discretionary powers of the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) to take suo moto notice under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.
Key political figures such as former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Yousuf Raza Gilani, along with senior politicians like Jahangir Tareen, may approach the top court seeking relief under this new bill.
The House had allowed the amendment, moved by MNA Mohsin Dawar, according to which the bill on commencement of the Act would have a retrospective effect when it comes to filing an appeal against an order passed by the CJP under the said article.
The amendment also states that an appeal will be available to an aggrieved person against whom an order under Article 184(3) was passed prior to the commencement of this law, provided that an appeal is filed within 30 days of the commencement of this Act.
If the law is applied and laid before the Senate, it would pave the way for contesting the disqualification of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who was disqualified under Article 62(F) of the Constitution in 2017.
Under the new law, the former PM may file an appeal against the Supreme Court verdict within 30 days of the commencement of this law. In the Panama Papers case, the SC had disqualified Nawaz Sharif from holding public office, and the decision was announced under Article 184(3) on applications filed by PTI chief Imran Khan.
Moreover, Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Yusuf Raza Gilani, estranged PTI leader Jehangir Khan Tareen, and affected persons of the Nasla Tower, Karachi, would also have the right to file appeals. Various other important cases may also be opened and appeals filed once the new legislation is made.
Jehangir Khan Tareen
On an application of Hanif Abbasi, the SC disqualified Jehangir Khan Tareen for life and declared Imran Khan Sadiq and Ameen. Under the new law, Hanif Abbasi would be able to file an appeal against the Sadiq and Ameen verdict. A reference against Qazi Faez Isa had been filed by the PTI government. Justice Faez Isa had challenged the reference under Article 184(3), and the apex court had thrown out the presidential reference terming it “invalid”.
The SC had declared former president Pervez Musharraf’s reference against former CJ Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry illegal under Article 184(3). Also, General Musharraf’s act of proclaiming an emergency on November 3, 2007, was declared an unconstitutional act by the SC under Article 184(3). The court had ordered filing a high treason case against Gen Musharraf on the application of Rawalpindi Bar under Article 184(3).
Yusuf Raza Gilani
The SC had also declared the first NRO [National Reconciliation Ordinance] illegal under the same article and later convicted Yusuf Raza Gilani in contempt of court for not implementing the court order in that case. Imran Khan and others had challenged the Speaker’s ruling under Article 184(3), and Yusuf Raza Gilani was barred from holding public office for five years.
Deedar Hussain Shah
Deedar Hussain Shah’s appointment as the NAB chairman was declared illegal by the SC under the same article. The SC decision that a person disqualified for life could not be appointed as political party chief was also given under the same suo motu powers. In total, there were almost 400 cases that were decided under 184(3).