The Supreme Court of Pakistan issued a comprehensive ruling on Wednesday, which emphasized that the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) does not have the authority to establish special benches or choose their members. In addition, the ruling stated that all proceedings related to suo motu notifications and issues of constitutional importance under Article 184(3) should be postponed until they are addressed by legislation. Justices Qazi Faez Isa and Aminuddin Khan issued the ruling in a case involving a 2018 rule proposed by the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC). This rule suggested awarding an additional 20 marks to applicants for MBBS or BDS degrees who memorize the Holy Quran by heart.
The order, which can be found on Dawn.com, first questioned the decision to convene a special bench comprised of judges from three distinct benches to hear the case. The justices questioned why the case could not have been heard by the current regular bench and stated that the Constitution and regulations do not provide the CJP with the power to create special benches, select judges for them, or choose cases for them to hear. The judgment also criticized special benches, which gave rise to allegations that the court was “tailor-made to provide a certain conclusion.” The judges emphasized that special benches are neither permitted nor anticipated by the Supreme Court Rules (1980).
The judgment highlighted that Article 184-3 of the Constitution, which deals with matters of public concern, has three types of cases: formal requests for the enforcement of fundamental rights, notices taken suo motu by the Supreme Court, and situations of “immense constitutional importance and significance.” The two judges stated that Order 25 of the Supreme Court Rules (1980) only applied to cases falling under the first category, and there was no specific process outlined for cases falling under the second or third categories. Furthermore, the guidelines did not address how to list these cases for hearing, how to set up a bench or benches to hear them, or how to select judges to hear them.
The judgment noted that the absence of a right of appeal under Article 184(3) of the Constitution worsens the problem. The Supreme Court’s top bench, which includes the Chief Justice of Pakistan and other judges of the Supreme Court, has the authority to issue rules on the aforementioned issues since the Constitution “does not confer to the Chief Justice of Pakistan unilateral and arbitrary power to settle the aforesaid issues.” The two judges emphasized that the CJP “cannot substitute his own knowledge with that of the Constitution” and that an individual cannot also assume the collective judgment of the CJP and other judges of the Supreme Court.
The two judges stated that the hearing of this case and all other cases under Article 184(3) of the Constitution would be best postponed until the concerns outlined above are addressed by creating necessary regulations in accordance with Article 191 of the Constitution. This ruling carries immense significance for Pakistan’s politics, economy, and other facets of daily life, as decisions on key issues arising from Article 184(3) of the Constitution have a substantial impact.
In conclusion, the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s ruling on Wednesday has highlighted the need to create regulations for dealing with cases falling under Article 184(3) of the Constitution. The ruling emphasized that the CJP does not have the power to establish special benches or select judges for them, and that special benches often lead to allegations that the court is biased. The ruling stated that cases falling under Article 184(3) of the Constitution should be postponed until the concerns described above are addressed by legislation. This ruling has significant implications for Pakistan’s politics, economy, and other aspects of daily life, as decisions on key issues arising from Article 184(3) of the Constitution have a substantial impact.