SC (Practice and Procedure) Bill not person-specific: Lawyers

PESHAWAR:Members of the Peshawar High Court Bar Association (PHCBA) Thursday termed the passage of the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure Bill 2023) by the Parliament historic as it had fulfilled an old demand of the lawyers’ community.

They said the new law was not person-specific as all the litigants now had the right to file appeals in cases decided under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution.

PHCBA member Gohar Rehman Khattak, who is also a former president of Peshawar Bar Council, told reporter that the government deserved appreciation for the historic legislation, which would provide the much-needed relief to the people affected by the judgments pronounced under Article 184 (3). It would also enhance public confidence in the judiciary.

“The bill is not person-specific. All those who were convicted in suo moto cases can now file appeals against the verdicts,” said the constitutional expert. Former prime ministers Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani and senior politician Jahangir Tareen might also get relief from the new law, he added.

Under the new law, any aggrieved person might file an appeal against the SC verdict within 30 days of its enforcement, he remarked.

“The right of appeal in suo moto cases is the oldest demand of the lawyers’ community, which has now been fulfilled,” Ashfaq Malik, a senior constitutional lawyer, said.

He said the new law became all the more important keeping in view the dissenting note of two judges in the suo moto notice taken by the Chief Justice of Pakistan regarding the delay in the elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab assemblies.

He said the nation had witnessed suo motu notices taken by former CJPs Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary and Mian Saqib Nasir, two of them led to the disqualification of former prime ministers Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani and Muhammad Nawaz Sharif.

Sometimes judicial activism remained counter-productive, he added.

Ashfaq Malik said it was unfortunate that no elected prime minister had completed the five-year tenure in the country’s parliamentary history. “The state crumbles when institutions interfere in one another’s domain and in such circumstances, the people are the ultimate sufferers due to disruption in the service delivery,” he added.

Esa Khan, former advocate general of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said the Parliament had the powers to do legislation and the judiciary to interpret the Constitution while the executive powers to run the government rest with the prime minister in a parliamentary system.

He said welcomed the passage of the SC (Practice and Procedure Bill 2023), which would benefit all litigants irrespective of their political affiliations and financial status.

“The new law has abolished the long culture of likes and dislikes and allows the aggrieved litigants to hire lawyers of their choice for their appeals,” he said.

The senior lawyers expressed the hope that all the state institutions would work in their respective domains and support each other for national cohesion.

They said jail reforms were also necessary to provide speedy justice to a large number of prisoners languishing in jails.

Majority of prisoners in jails, they said, were under trial prisoners that had overloaded jails in all the provinces, including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Amendments in Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Criminal Procedure Act (CrPC) were also imperative for the quick dispensation of justice, besides special attention for the education of juvenile offenders and prisoners charged in petty nature cases in jails.

They said the country was passing through a difficult economic situation and national unity for election was required to take the ship of democracy to safe shores.