Pakistan’s Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023 is set to become law on 20 April, according to Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar. The bill, which aims to reduce the chief justice’s power to take suo motu notice in an individual capacity, was passed by the joint session of parliament on 10 April, despite protests by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). The president returned the bill, but it was passed again after an eight-member larger bench of the Supreme Court ordered that the legislation would not be acted upon until further notice, even if it received presidential approval. The law minister said that the matter of the law’s implementation would be seen later.
The bill’s passage comes amid tensions between the judiciary and government regarding the Punjab polls case, with the government demanding the top judge step down over “controversial” choices relating to elections. In response, the government passed the bill, which was a longstanding demand of the bar associations and aimed to end the indiscriminate use of Article 184(3) of the Constitution.
The National Assembly also approved a resolution calling for national and provincial assembly elections to be held simultaneously to strengthen the federation and prevent influence by results in Punjab. The Supreme Court’s bill was tabled for amendment by PML-N lawmaker Shaza Fatima Khawaja, and the joint sitting of parliament reconsidered and passed the amended proposal.