- The verdict against the act of parliament comes two days after the dissolution of the National
A three-member apex court bench struck down on Friday the Supreme Court (Review of Judgments and Orders) Act 2023, which was brought by the previous government in a particular scenario after the dissolution of the Punjab Assembly and Supreme Court order about holding elections in the province on May 14.
The law also offered PMLN Supremo Nawaz Sharif and Istehkam-e-Pakistan Part Chief Jehangir Tareen an opportunity to challenge their lifetime disqualifications. Both politicians were barred by the Supreme Court in 2017 from running for public office ever again.
The three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Muneeb Akhtar and Justice Ijazul Ahsan announced the judgement it reserved on June 19.
‘Parliament overstepped its authority’
The court declared that Parliament overstepped its authority by enacting the law that regulated the top court of the country.
However, the verdict comes two days after the National Assembly was dissolved. This means that Parliament cannot pass the law again at least until after the general elections.
Under this law, the right of appeal against decisions given under Article 184/3 was granted and Nawaz Sharif and Jehangir Tareen were expected to challenge the 2017 judgments that barred them from running for office.
But the latest Supreme Court judgment is not likely to affect them as the parliament has already reduced the disqualification period to five years only by amending the Election Act 2017. The amendment was passed on June 17.
Aaj News anchorperson Shaukat Piracha was of the view that the decision would not have a big impact as CJP Bandial is going to retire in September. His successor Justice Qazi Faez Isa holds different views.
Connection with Punjab election
The law was passed in a particular context after the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan to hold elections in Punjab on May 14. The act enabled the government to challenge the order. However, this context no longer holds.
The decision is no longer important in the context of the Punjab election, said Paracha.
Who were the petitioners
The petitions against the law were filed by Imran Khan’s PTI and others.
The top court reserved its decision on the applications on June 19, 2023 after Attorney General of Pakistan Mansoor Awan completed his arguments. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s lawyer Ali Zafar had already completed his arguments.
In its petition, the PTI urged the top court to send home the then government over its failure to hold elections in Punjab on May 14 as ordered by the Supreme Court.
The law provided that judgments given under Article 184(3), which is known as the review clause, could be appealed against and reviewed. Earlier, no review of suo motu judgments was allowed which meant that the SC verdict on the election date was final and could not be reviewed or changed. By extension, it also meant that the government stood in contempt of court.
The law came into force after President Arif Alvi signed it without sending it back to the parliament as he had done in the case of many other pieces of legislation.
The law, according to the government, was aimed at facilitating the SC in the exercise of its powers to review its judgements.